Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Challenge I Can't Meet

I took up a challenge months ago in a new field. It's a challenge for me, meeting this weekly challenge, because it goes contrary to much of my personality. There are different kinds of people in this world - people who fix things, who are very mechanically-inclined; there are people who see things in pictures, in the visual world; and there are people who live and breathe through words. All are forms of communication, one really not better than the other.

I am married to an engineer. All that he does shows that he lives, breathes, and understands all things mechanical. He can fix anything better, stronger, faster, than anyone has ever fixed anything in the world. Really.

My son-in-law is a gifted photographer. He takes pictures, captures moments, that can steal your breath for their beauty, and me...

I'm the words person. I have rarely met a thought I could not "voice" in words; feelings and events fall quickly to the "might" of my keyboard. Okay, that's getting a little strong, but me, I like to write.

So, I took up the challenge to go "outside my comfort zone" and try to express a single concept each week with a picture. It is incredibly hard and I'm incredibly not creative enough to compete with others and so, as the wise man who runs this challenge each week keeps telling us, don't compete with others, compete with yourself.

That's what 52 Frames is all about and this week, I can't do it. It isn't the first time. Yosef of the 52 Frames picked Rule of Thirds one week, and I was about to go find something in threes, when I luckily read the description and Haim explained what they wanted. Then they said the theme of another week was Macro...Haim to the rescue again...who knew my camera had a macro setting?

Last week was calm. It was pretty easy to do - there are many things that are calm in my life. I thought of the mountains, fields of flowers, the sea. In the end, I went with something more basic, but it wasn't really that hard.

This week's challenge stumped me. Chaos. I know I can dump a bunch of things in a drawer and take a picture and call it chaos. I can take a picture of my kitchen after I cook a meal for many people. But those don't represent chaos to me...and what does, is a picture I wouldn't take, even if I could.

Chaos isn't messy. Chaos is that moment after there is an explosion, when you don't know where to turn, when all around you, things are crazy. You don't know if you should go forward or back...there could be another bomb. You know you aren't hurt, but you don't know who is. People are rushing past you to see what happened, to help.

Chaos is the loss of control. It's that moment when the world implodes and even if you know somehow tomorrow you'll crawl out of it, at that moment, it is beyond what you can handle. It isn't so many things. It is so many things. Calm is easy. Each person has their calm, their balance. Often many things can bring you to a state of calm. It's a warm bath, a loving touch. It's watching your child (or grandchild) walk in those first few weeks when he's mastered this new skill. It's listening to children as they chatter, knowing they are home, they are safe.

Chaos is the opposite of everything we want. Too often, we minimize what it really means, abuse the term. But real chaos is the lights suddenly going out, people screaming, and you hear gunshots and you don't know where to hide. Chaos is being in a train moments after an Arab has dropped some tear gas just as the doors were closing, and people running to the front of the train as it pulls from the station and you don't know why people are running and screaming.

Chaos is uncontrollable fear in a situation you can't control; it's not a picture I ever want to take, I knew that when I saw the word but I tried to give it a try. I tried to compete with myself and now I admit defeat.

I can't post a picture after children have finished playing in a room. That isn't chaos, that's life. I thought of trying to take a picture of traffic but I don't have the access to the right angle and truthfully, that's traffic and bad drivers, not chaos.

So this week, I won't meet the challenge. I have in the past, I will in the future. Not today. Chaos to me is so much more than ordinary life and for some reason this one, more than any other, just overwhelms me. It isn't about style. It isn't about talent. It is about a deep need to stay far from the only real chaos that I've ever experienced in my life.

Here are some pictures of the challenges that I did meet...this one, I won't try for.

Magic hour (that first or last hour of the day)

Macro - making something tiny in life be really big)

From Above...and so I gave a literal example

Negative Space - letting the rest of the picture be in the background

Line in a song....I chose a song from Don Quixote

RED...of course

Highkey - don't ask me to explain this one. I don't remember but I think this
was an example...

Transportation - this one came with an explanation that moments earlier, a terrorist had attempted to board
another train with a bomb in his backpack. Guards thankfully stopped him but the train became my symbol of
transportation for that week's challenge,

What will this child grow up to be?

The explanation you don't want to read for the video you won't want to see, goes like this:
In this video, a Palestinian man literally throws his young child at Israeli Border Patrol officers as cameras roll, presumably in the hopes that they hurt him. The Israeli soldiers simply shake the young boy's hand. The father then yells at his son to throw stones at the soldiers. The poor child eventually complies.
I listened and watched. The father is shrieking at the child, yelling to him (or her?) to approach the soldiers. Mission failure...the child does, and then when the soldier puts his hand out, the child "high fives" him back.

Then the father orders the child to throw a rock at the soldiers. Mission failure...the child finally picks up the rock but tosses it in the opposite direction, more interested in it as a toy than as a weapon of hatred.

But the weapon of hatred is there - it is there in the voice of the father. Will he turn his child into a weapon of hatred? The sad truth is that he probably will. I wouldn't be surprised to find this child arrested in another 8 or 9 years for throwing rocks at Israeli cars and buses. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that in another 15 years, he or she exploded on a bus or stabbed innocent Israelis.

This is the start. We are watching hatred being implanted, implemented, encouraged. This is the start. What will this child group up to be when daily it is fed a steady diet of anger and hate and violence.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Face of a Hypocrite

This is the face of a hypocrite. 

Rami Hamdallah is the so-called Prime Minister of the so-called Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah. He's also a hypocrite of gigantic proportions. It boggles the mind how he dares to stand in front of cameras and open his mouth. It really does.

He says that the Palestinian Authority will not allow Israel to hold on to the dead bodies of terrorists, presumably those who died in the act of terror and those who were caught afterwards.

And yet...and yet...these "people" have been holding the remains of at least one Israeli soldier for two years, torturing his family and this country. They have returned the bodies of soldiers with clear proof they were tortured and mutilated. You won't allow us to do to you what you've been doing to us for decades? Yeah, sure...I'm sure that's reasonable, fair and...oh right, I'm talking to a terrorist leader of a terrorist organization or a people that supports terror and murder and hate and violence.

Well, dear "sir" - you can take that and shove it where the sun don't shine. For once, I am awfully tempted to use one of those four letter words.

On the other hand, our Prime Minister, who was actually elected in free and democratic elections, is best at refusing something when others order him to do it...her's hoping he'll take his God-given talent for speech and tell the Palestinian Authority where to go..

Post credit goes to:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Keeping the Sabbath

On my first trip to Israel when I was 16 years old, I discovered, truly for the first time, the deepest and truest meaning of Shabbat, our Sabbath day. For years in America, I had adopted the traditions, attempted to follow the rules, but what was missing was the absolute depth and beauty of sharing that day with others in song, sharing meals, simply living in the moment. My family was not religious and so I was mostly on my own, sailing through the mechanics.

Only in Israel, sharing each Shabbat day with hundreds of other teenagers who were also enjoying the experience of Israel did I suddenly understand why the rules are what they are and how incredible a gift we as a people have been given.

While I was here, one Shabbat was shared with another group of kids. This one included girls who had recently been "converted" from Reform Judaism to Orthodoxy and the sudden plunge that they experienced was so very different from my slow and easy (and lonely) journey from Conservative Judaism to Orthodox. Though I understood that these girls had been quickly taught that they must be modest, I found their climbing under the blankets in an all-girls room to be a bit absurd, but I held back figuring, with all the superiority a 16 year old can muster, that they needed to be helped along and accepted, not criticized.

Later that night, after yet another amazing meal, hearing 300 kids singing and clapping and even dancing, I was not even a bit bothered the first time one of them complained that the last person out of the room, whoever that was, had forgotten to shut the light. So here we were, four girls in a room with a light on, while Jewish law forbade us from closing it during the Sabbath.

I accepted the situation and turned on my side, but this one girl said out loud, "Oh, it's so hard to sleep with the light on."

I closed my eyes and waited for sleep, "I just wish the light hadn't been left on," she said.

A few minutes later, "It's just so hard to sleep with the light on, too bad it can't be closed."

And a few minutes later, "It's so hard to sleep with the light on."

And then somehow, a crazy thought entered my mind, "Are you hinting that we should shut the light?" I asked her as I sat up in bed and looked at her.

Such incredible relief filled her face with joy, "YES! My rabbi told me that I wasn't allowed to turn the lights on and off but that I could hint to someone else to do it!"

I looked at her somewhat surprised myself and yet also relieved at having the mystery solved, "to a non-Jew," I told her. "We can't turn the lights on or off either."

David is home for a long weekend. He's talking about the army, funny stories, serious ones and I listen and smile. He's happy. He looks amazing. He was so silly, so playful today. He hasn't been home in more than 2 weeks and I've missed him a lot.

His grandmother asks him to tell her one good thing about being in the army, "You get a lot of exercise," he answered.

"Where you are sleeping, is it air-conditioned?" I ask.

The answer is "sort of." There are machines there, but to cut down on costs, the air conditioners automatically go off every two hours and then someone has to turn them back on. This works just fine during the week, but on the Sabbath, the air conditioners go off and can't be turned back least not by the Jewish soldiers in David's unit.

And so they hinted and explained to a Druze soldier who had heard of such practices but never really experienced them. It took a few minutes but he finally understood what was needed after a sudden power outage cut the electricity. Quite willing to help his fellow soldiers, he turned the electricity back on...everyone thanked him.

Then, he smiled, closed the electricity, laughed and walked out of the room. A minute or two later, he came back in and turned it back on and everyone joined in the laughter.

Another soldier who serves in his unit is from Russia. He is not Jewish, though going through the conversion process. David said that on Friday in the middle of the night, the Russian soldier woke because  it was very hot in the room. He got up and turned the air conditioner back on and then, thinking of the other soldiers, he went room to room to turn the air conditioners on again for the other soldiers.

Keeping the Sabbath is not always the easiest thing to do. Years ago, I found myself in Jerusalem and spent the night with the light on because it was Shabbat and I couldn't turn the light back on. Now, so many years later, my son's army life is made that much easier by two non-Jews - both of whom have volunteered to serve in the army.

We are commanded to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. This holy Shabbat, Davidi will be home to share in it with us. He left a short time ago to visit his friends. I've got corned beef boiling on the stove top; chicken cooling in the oven. Soon I'll make the dough for the challah and leave it to rise overnight.

Years before my first trip, I knew that I wanted to live in Israel; now, as I watch my son and hear the stories he tells me about his life in the army over the last two weeks, I smile. I wish I could go back and whisper in my 16 year old year...have faith, you'll get back here; you'll raise your children here and they will be everything you dreamed of and so many things you never imagined.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

You Can't...Just Did

It feels like it's been forever since he was last home. It's been 16 days, just over 2 weeks. I've spoken to him while he was on base, sent him messages, Whatsapped him pictures (yeah, in today's world, Whatsapp is a verb...who knew?).

He walked through the door looking so wonderful. Tired, thin. Wonderful. Hungry. Home, at last.

While he was gone, someone stole my phone. Okay, to be fair, I left it somewhere and rather than take it to the front of the store and say, "hey, someone left their phone here." They stole it; shut it down and from the tracking app I have on it, apparently have taken out the SIM card and acquired themselves a new phone.

It is at times like this that I remind myself - what you steal in this life, you pay for in the next. I've applied that belief several times in the face of injustice and so here too, I offer that warning to the thief.

In any event, I borrowed a phone and went to Pelephone to get a new SIM and, as is the way with salespeople, managed to leave there with a bargain including a new phone for me and a spare phone as well. As for me, goodbye Nexus 6, I loved you well. Hello, Galaxy S6, I could definitely do worse!

Davidi walked in and I asked him if he wanted the spare phone. It's about the same level as his current phone, which is still working fine so he said he didn't need it. He then opened the package and took out the earphones.

"I'll just take the earphones," he said as he turned and walked upstairs.

"You can't," I started to say.

"Just did," he responded as I heard his boots climb.

Why that makes me smile, I have no idea...but yeah, he's got the earphones...and I have him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Death of the Democratic Party

Two images dance in my mind: the first troubling, the second, a stab to the heart, an ending, a death.

The first is a picture from a few days ago taken at the Democratic National Convention. It is a picture of flag of a country that does not exist. They have no language, no culture, no capital, no borders. Congratulations, they have a flag.

They call it the Palestinian flag, and it is. What it is not, is the flag of Palestine - a place that existed only as part of the Ottoman Empire, then the British Mandate. A place from which Jordan was formed, a place that could have been born in 1948 at the same time that my country was reborn. Israel was recreated on our ancient homeland on May 14, 1948. The dream of Palestine was aborted by its people who decided to take a gamble that they didn't have to settle for just half. They gambled, they lost, and they have been whining and murdering innocents ever since.

This flag, waved in pride on the floor of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) is a flag that represents violence, intransigence, and terror. That there isn't an American flag in sight at the DNC is more telling than shocking.

But the second picture, this one turns shock into fury. This one proclaims more clearly than any other, that the Democratic party of my youth is dead. It was murdered by left-wing extremists, ignorant people like Bernie Sanders and others who have the audacity to try to convince long-time Democrats that they "love" Israel but don't like the current government.

The irony of this picture, taken outside the DNC is that below the Israeli flag being held above the flames is a poster of Bernie Sanders.

The tragedy of this picture is that it happened in the United States of America, a close ally of Israel; that it happened in Philadelphia, a city that represents freedom and liberty and justice, not mob mentality, violence and misplaced anger.

And more, theses two pictures together represent the death of the Democratic Party of my youth; of the fliers I folded and delivered door to door, of the nights I listened to my mother and others plan strategies for strengthening the party in our town, our state.

Police acted quickly and arrested many of the demonstrators, who also burned the US flag. One could argue and say that the Democratic party is not responsible for what a crowd of imbeciles do outside their convention. They could argue that they aren't responsible for the fact that a few morons waved the Palestinian flag on the floor of their convention.

But the fact is, that if the death of the Democratic party is not represented by the waving of Palestinian flags and the burning of Israeli flags, it is represented by the lack of American flags there on the podium and around the room. It is there in the destruction of the US military instigated and conducted by their president over the last 8 years.

Whatever speeches are spoken in Philadelphia, whatever voices are raised, by far, the loudest sound heard from the Democrats today is the sound of it turning its back on America.

You Can Tell a Man By the Company He Keeps

...and you can tell a woman by the company she keeps as well.

They donated to her foundation...and then the Obama Administration/State Department closed arms deals...

And rumor has it as much as 90% of these funds never reached the people they were intended to benefit. Corruption, thy name is Hillary.

Time to Admit this Great and Tragic Truth

This morning, in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, two terrorists walked into a church and murdered an 84 year old Catholic priest. In the early morning hours, as the priest was conducting mass, they entered the church with the specific and clear intention to murder.
They violated the holiness, the sanctity of that holy place because...because...

You know what. Stop there. The because leads you to madness.

This is Jacques Hamel. He was 84 when he was murdered by Islamic terrorists in a terror attack in France. He was a priest but more, he was an old man who hurt no one. He was murdered in the name of Allah. He was murdered in the name of intolerance. They entered a church and violated the sanctity of that place. The priest was murdered because he was a Catholic, an infidel. Yes, that's right. According to Islam, this man of the cloth was an infidel.

This is Hadas Fogel. She was only four months old when she was murdered by Islamic terrorists in a terror attack in Israel. She was a baby, but more, she was the essence of innocence and she too was murdered in the name of hatred and Allah. She was murdered in the name of intolerance. She was murdered because she was a Jew, an infidel. Yes, that's right. According to Islam, this child, this baby of only four months old was an infidel and a worthy and honorable target.

And this is Hallel Yaffa Ariel. She was just 13 and a half when she was murdered by an Islamic terrorist in a terror attack in Israel. She was in her bedroom, asleep when he entered her room and began stabbing her. She was a child on the brink of so much more when she was murdered in the name of hate and martyrdom and Allah. She was murdered in the name of intolerance. She was murdered because she was a Jew, an infidel. Yes, that's right. This sleeping child is, according to Islam, a legitimate and honorable kill.
I keep wondering what level of violence will it take to shock the world into action. They have burned people, hanged them, decapitated them. They have stabbed, stoned, bombed, and shot people. They murdered a Hadas, and many other babies across the globe. The murdered Hallel as she slept, and many other young girls and boys. And today, they murdered a priest in cold blood.

What will it take for the world to be able to say - without lowering their voices - this was the work of Islamic extremism? This was Islamic terror? All No. NO.

But today, and yesterday, last week and last month and last year and ten years ago and twenty. In Madrid, New York, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Jerusalem, Brussels, Itamar, Nice, Kiryat Arba, Orlando, Normandy, Afula and on and on and on.

Say it. Islamic terror. Stop it. Stop it. Be shocked. Be angry. Scream out your anger. Stop terrorism.

Stop them now...before they come to your city, as they have come to mine. Stop them because they will not stop. They will come to yours, as they have come for mine. 

You and yours...that's right...YOU are an infidel and they want you dead. They want your way of life crushed. Does that scare you? Does that terrify you to the depths of your soul?


Monday, July 25, 2016

From One Soldier's Mother to Another

Arranging a holiday in Israel can be very interesting. It seems like the whole country goes on vacation at the same time. Occupancy in the north during the summer and in the south during the winter reaches, quite literally, close to 100%. Get that spot early, or you're not going to find a place.

We found a place - or at least my amazing older daughter did. And then we found out that David would be out of the army...the week before. So we decided to check around and see if we could find somewhere else to stay. I started calling and realized the week we want coincides with a huge musical festival up north...wonderful.

I called a bunch of places and then got desperate enough to ask one if perhaps she knew of another. I explained that I wanted my "soldier" to join us. That we already have a place the following week, but I really, really want to give him that time, that break. I've never gone on vacation without him and I don't want to start now if I can help it.

"Where does he serve?" she asked.

"Givati,," I answered.

And then, the most amazing thing happened. She started to speak. I'll write down what I remember as best I can,

"My son served in Givati too. It was very hard. You know they go into Gaza, right?"

Yes, I told her, already hearing the dread pour into my voice. "I don't want him in Givati," I confessed.

"Listen to me. This is what you have to do. Every day, you have to give tzedukah [charity]. Find a poor family and every day, give them a few shekels. And pray. Say to yourself, 'he should go in peace and he should serve in peace and he should be safe and come home in peace. Him and all of the soldiers of Israel."

I told her again how much it scares me; she told me again that she it will be okay, just to give charity every day. Can you imagine speaking with a complete stranger and having her bless your child and offer you her support? It happens here all the time. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton

My thoughts...mine alone. Not meant to interfere. No money was distributed, no attempt is being made to infiltrate the US to undermine any campaign (as compared to what the Obama administration did during the last Israeli elections).

I'm smart enough to know that if we were stupid enough to attempt this, America...or what is left of it...would respond to us as we responded to Obama (Israel's Message to Obama).

So, I offer my thoughts...and mine alone...on the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton:

I am more amazed by the endless need to attack the other person that typifies almost all Facebook posts. And the only posts I've seen the have been positive about either candidate are usually lies. The best single post I've seen is quite simple "We're Screwed, 2016".

I have been accused of being interested in only one aspect of the US elections - how the candidate relates to Israel. I can't totally deny this because while I believe which candidate you choose will impact on your future economic situation and perhaps some personal freedoms, I don't think the very lives of most Americans hangs on the balance of how the next election goes.

Potentially every Israeli life, including and especially the soldiers of Israel, could be on the line. I am proud of my country, Israel, for taking the necessary steps and cultivating other relationships outside the one with the US. This will be needed if Clinton is elected.

But I will also tell you that again and again, I see that what happens to Israel first, spreads to the rest of the world. We lived through terrible days of suicide bombing attacks, now they are very rare in Israel (thank God and the IDF). While terrorism is still a reality in Israel, far more attacks are averted or mitigated by our strong and constant attempts to fight it. We watch as horrible things happen in Brussels, Orlando, London, San Bernadino, Paris, Nice, and now Munich. Left unchecked, terror will spread and spread. And who the US chooses in this election, will likely have a direct impact on how the US fights terror (or even if it fights terror), in the coming years.

What boggles the mind is how many of you now agree Obama was a disaster, just as we here in Israel said he would be, but are prepared to go with Clinton when we say the same thing about her and the policies she will implement, the people she will empower. Fool us once, shame on him...and Obama did. Fool us twice even, shame on him...and Obama did. Fool you three times, and Clinton will, shame on you.

At some point, however, you can't fight stupid. Do what you gotta do, America. The world is watching. Your society is imploding. It is horrible to watch from outside. Those of us who live in Israel by choice still care deeply for the US and it is very painful to sit here and watch you choose between two such horrendous options. Worse, to watch as you pick the worst of the worse.

Clinton has now picked a Vice President who has a clear anti-Israel position. Oh yeah, he'll mouth the words about supporting our backs...just like Obama did. But like Obama and Clinton, they despise the Israeli government, and the vibrant Israeli democracy that brought it to power.

I firmly believe that in four years, if you elect Clinton, America will be weaker and more isolated, thousands more will have died in terror attacks. As for Israel, you may not believe this next statement, but I do...we here in Israel will be fine. We are strong. We love this land and will defend it.

Four years ago, when Obama was re-elected, I wanted Israel to send the US a message, "God bless you and keep you safe...see you in four years."

Well, it's four years later. If Clinton is elected, I hope we'll send that message because there will be no reason to attempt a closer relationship. Israel gets financial aid...yeah, we do...and we paid for that aid right back in many ways. It is not at all clear that Israel needs the US more than the US needs Israel - ask your military...or what is left of it after Obama has systematically worked to destroy it.

Look at the innovation coming out of Israel. I'll tell you a secret...ready? What you see is nothing compared to what is happening here. You've seen pieces of it - Iron Dome - that WE developed, to meet and knock missiles out of the sky to protect our people, and now a Tunnel Discovery technology that is finding and destroying Hamas tunnels.

What else is there? Don't worry - there's more. We'll deal with what we have to, no matter who you elect. With great disgust and sadness, I hope it will be Donald Trump.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because I'd rather stand with the United States before the Russians, the Germans, Asians and Africans.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because a united stand against Iran is the only way out of the dangers ahead that would (and will) be presented by a nuclear Iran. My country will fly alone if it has to but it would be better for the west if it wasn't Israel alone.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because I don't think the US military can survive another years of Obama under a new name.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because he is a Washington outsider and it's time to bring in someone from the outside to change the corruption that has robbed America of so much of its greatness.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because Israel is an important ally and deserves better treatment than it got from Obama or will get from Clinton and Caine, who supported Obama's ongoing attempts to humiliate and insult Israel's leaders.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because the alternative is so much worse and because the next few years will force America to deal with very similar problems that Europe is struggling with right places like Paris, Nice, Brussels, London, and Munich.

I hope it will be Donald Trump...

I hope it won't be Hillary Clinton. I hope it won't be Tim Kaine.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Watch This Video - Best 21 Minutes You'll Have Today

Strung in the middle of this 21 minute video are three special videos, two of which I've seen before.

It's called A Miracle of Israel...I think the title is wrong. It could be THE Miracle of Israel because Israel is truly a miracle and this video shows that. It could be The Miracles of Israel because this video shows at least two miracles have have happened.

Turn up your speakers, watch my beautiful country unfold before your eyes. Listen to a soldier describe what happened when his unit went into Gaza. Let me know if you manage to listen and not cry...

My only complaint about this video is that it is only 21 minutes long. I could have watched it for hours...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In My Little Country Today

In my little country today, it was sunny and the streets of Jerusalem were filled with people shopping, walking, eating. It was a normal summer day in a normal country. There are those who want to say life is not normal in Israel, but it really is. Kids play in the sunshine; parents balance jobs and kids and camp and summer plans.

Planes are flying in and planes are flying out. Sales; school supplies, the train beeps and then continues on its path.

I went to work, went shopping and bought some new towels, came home and started cooking. Normal. Really.

Same road, NOT our car, someone else. No injuries
Nothing exploded (at least so far); no one was stabbed. For that alone, we are grateful. About four hours ago, my husband called to tell me that after his current meeting, he had yet another one set up. He's going to be home late.

Two hours later, on his way there, Arabs threw a rock at his car. He saw the rock as it came towards the car, heard the boom as it hit. He did the right thing - he kept going.

He called me and told me what happened; I called the police. He's fine. He's fine. He's fine. The car doesn't even seem to be damaged, but who can tell? It's an old car and anyway, he's fine.

Another car was hit, it's windshield broken by rocks; another car, further down the road and a bit later, was also hit - this time by a bullet, which was found in the car.

In all incidents, no one was hurt, thank God.

We called the police and explained where it happened. A short time later, someone from the army called me to ask the exact location and ask what had happened. I told them what I could, that I wasn't in the car, and gave them my husband's telephone number.

And then, as is customary in Israel, I wished him a "quiet" night. Quiet is a euphemism for peaceful, terror-attack free. And then, he wished me one back. That made me smile. He's out there on duty tonight; I'm here in my home.

So, all I can do is wish for peace and quiet in my little country tonight. 

A Scene of Israel

I love taking pictures. Last night when I got out of work...I was speaking on the phone so I couldn't take a picture of what was happening before my eyes. One part of my brain kept the conversation going, wishing I could somehow disconnect with my client and enjoy the scene.

There must be a picture somewhere, but I haven't find it.

Here's a picture of the scene without the scene. This is the location. Look and then try to imagine.

Take away the train, it only came later...take away the sunshine. It was about 9:00 p.m. - completely night, a summer night in a beautiful city.

There, this second one is better. Dark streets...not so empty...and music. That was the first thing I noticed - music.

And people in a group walking in the center of the road, on the tracks...all around me, people were coming out of buildings and gathering near the edge of the tracks. People were clapping, singing, taking pictures and videos.

And there in the middle, about 200 strong, walked along the light rail tracks, straight up the center of Jerusalem. Then, I saw a chuppah, a wedding canopy, being marched down the center of the tracks.

I was wondering if maybe there would be a bride and groom but I couldn't see anyone under the chuppah as four men carried the poles and others danced in and out from underneath. At one point, the train came through and a policeman rushed to order everyone out of the way but still they kept singing and dancing.

It was an event that happens regularly all over the country, each time to great joy. Not a wedding, but the dedication of a new Torah scroll. Often written to honor or remember a loved one, the writing of a Torah scroll is a dream for many of us. It's very expensive, takes tremendous skill and dedication and time and so it is only logical that when it is done, it is brought to the synagogue with song and dance and celebration.

I've seen it many time; but this was the first time I saw it right there in the middle of the city, watched over by dozens, guarded by police and security.

It was, quite simply, a symbol of our life, a scene that is so very Israel. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Worst Day of their Lives

Everyone has bad days. We even sometimes have days that we call, "the worst!" as in "OMG, this is the WORST day of my life." But we usually don't mean it. I think there are few worse things in life than seeing the worst day of your own life, or anyone else's.

Today is the worst day in the lives of several of the people I saw today and it was particularly painful knowing that I could do nothing but watch the horror unfold. I have been, for most of the last nine years, a soldier's mother. I don't think there is a day that goes by when I don't worry, that I'm not working hard to push away the feat

There is no standard for funerals. Sometimes the family is there before the guests and they greet you and speak of their loved one. Sometimes, they are overwhelmed, as would be expected, and so you hug and move on, almost knowing that in the hours and days that follow, there's a decent chance they'll never even remember you were there.

Today, I went to the funeral of a 20-year-old soldier who was killed in the line of duty. I listened as brothers spoke, as sisters cried. All around me, people were holding each other and wishing they could be anywhere but where they were, where they had to be.
He decided to come to Israel, learn Hebrew within a few months, and get into the unit in the army he wanted. And he did it. I admired him so much, and I don't think I even told him that. I told other people, I bragged about my brother, but I'm not sure if I told him."  -- Shlomo's brother Baruch.
Today was the worst day of their lives - this mother who brought this boy into this world, had him for 20 years, and has now lost him. I went because like the hundreds of other people who were there, I wanted to show my support; I wanted them to know that the land that their son, Shlomo Zalman, had chosen to serve, had chosen and loved him in return.
You were the young one in the family, the baby, but you never wanted to accept that. You were so mature and wanted to do everything the older siblings were doing. We might have given you a hard time sometimes, but we loved you so so much, because you were our baby. And I miss you so so much, my baby. -- Shlomo's sister, Baila
He was the one they loved to tease; the one they ordered around. He was the baby of the family, the youngest and yet the one who always knew what he wanted most in life. In another month, he was to return to their home and spend a month playing with his nieces and nephews. Now he never will, and that thought devastated his sister and in hearing it, devastated each of us.

There are so many things that we as a people share. We share a past that dates back thousands of years, a collective conscience in many ways, that allows us to recognize the other in distant lands. A stranger in Amsterdam, in London, even in India will walk up to you and suddenly the reason they approach you is obvious. They too are Jews, seeking the familiar, the connection.

At a conference in Germany, a man approaches me and speaks in Hebrew. For that moment, he is an anchor to my real world, and I am his. It has happened again and again to me when I travel. It is an unspoken, unbroken bond.

Today that bond had me travel to a small village in the center of Israel to stand and watch people that I have never met before, suffer through a day they will never forget. It will always be the day that changed their lives, a day they will wish a million times that they never had to experience.
Today is a day of tragedy for the family, for the army, and for the Jewish nation everywhere. Shlomo joined the army to follow in the footsteps of four brothers and two sisters who did national service. Shlomo, you always smiled, you always were there to help whoever needed it. You could have done a shorter term of service as part of the diaspora volunteer program, but you decided to do the full three years. You will always be an example to all of us, to your brothers and sisters, and everyone who knew you. -- Shlomo's brother Jeff.
I cried today for Shlomo Rindenow, for the sweet boy they spoke about, for the husband and father he never got to be. And I cried for his parents and his siblings and their families and I thought about what a horrible day it was, really and truly, the very worst.

May tomorrow bring them comfort; may the memories of the gift that was their son bring them light in the darkest of days.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

In My Little Country

It's been a heck of a busy day.

Early in the morning, my phone beeped with news that shouldn't have been shared. A grenade had gone off in the north...there were injuries, possibly fatalities. Hours later, this was confirmed and at this moment, a family is flying from Israel to attend the funeral tomorrow of their 20 year old son, who came to Israel to live here, to serve in the army, as several other children in the family have already done.

Later, it would come out that the grenade that detonated killed two soldiers, one was the lone soldier whose family is flying now; the second was a Druze soldier from the north. Ironic because a short while after he died, another Druze, this one a security guard for the light rail in Jerusalem, saved dozens if not hundreds of lives when he identified and with another guard rushed to stop a terrorist armed with bombs who was about to get on the light rail in the center of Jerusalem.

And then, as if that wasn't enough excitement in my little country. A drone was intercepted by Patriot missiles as it infiltrated into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights.

There are days that are roller coasters of emotion here. Even the hint of a soldier's death brings on terror and pain. When you hear that a terrorist attack has been averted, the sun shines a bit brighter, you walk a bit more sure that whatever diving plan there is, Israel remains protected.

When you hear that Israel has fired a missile to ward off a threat, you think war might be coming, yet again to your small country.

My first thought when I heard about the almost-terror attack this morning was that I was grateful that there would be no funerals, no mourning families. In the end, there are two families in Israel who are in mourning now. Tomorrow, there will be a a funeral - of a 20 year old soldier whose family is flying in from New Jersey right now.

In the end, tomorrow, I will go to the funeral of a lone soldier who died for Israel today and somewhere in the sadness, I'll try to remember, as always, that there are blessings in life despite the pain.

The Bomb I Didn't Meet

Minutes ago on Yaffa Street in Jerusalem, alert light rail guards detained a suspicious Arab, wrestled him to the ground and separated him from the bomb that he was carrying. Less than 15 minutes before that, I was on another train, going in the same direction. I exited at that stop, bought a salad, and continued on to work. My train was perhaps one or two before the one that this terrorist attempted to board.

I didn't meet the bomber. I didn't meet the bomb. The bomb didn't explode. In the center of Jerusalem, in the center of the center of Jerusalem. The bomb didn't explode.

My phone beeped with the warning even before I had entered my office. Terrorist caught on Rechov [Street] Yaffo; area closed down. Police disarming the bomb. In nearby stores, workers and customers were quickly ordered to evacuate. In a video that has already been posted, you hear the police warning someone to get back.

The sun is shining on my beautiful city. I'm in my office, a five minute walk away. All the "what could have beens" are going through the minds of hundreds of people. It is an insane life to lead; to always be on alert; to always suspect. What saved the day here in Jerusalem - and what cost the French 84 lives is a "dirty" concept called profiling.

Profiling works. It is as simple as that. Today, it worked in Jerusalem and dozens, potentially hundreds of people are continuing their day, a bit shocked, a bit shaky. It would have worked in Nice if the police had dared to check a Muslim man in a non-refrigerated truck who said he was there to give ice cream away.

Jewish Press Covering this Morning's Attempted Bombing
I have been stopped in Vienna, in Amsterdam and in London, asked to show my passport, explain why I am traveling, my bags searched. They wanted to know if I had any liquid above 100 ml. One time, I had to surrender my toothpaste.

"What are you looking for?" I ask repeatedly. As my mother once asked in Frankfurt years ago (then she was 67), now I ask, "how many 55-year-old Jewish grandmothers who live in Israel hijack planes?"

"Will you remove your hat?" one security guard asked me in London.

"No," I responded.

"If I take you to a private room, will you remove your hat?" she asked. "Is it for religious reasons?"

"Yes and yes," I answered and so she escorted me to a private room where I showed her that I have more gray hairs than I'd like to admit and no bomb under my scarf.

That's when I told her that what she was doing made no sense and asked about the activity of those Jewish grandmothers.

This time, I finally got an answer, while all the other times my comment was ignored. "You're right," said the harried security guard. "My father is from Israel. You're right. But it pays my rent."

"On that, I'll agree," I told her. It pays her rent...and that's about it.

Profiling saved the lives of Israelis, yet again, this morning on Jaffa Street. Dozens of families are not rushing to hospitals, or worse, at this moment. All because alert security guards did their job with all the tools in their possession - and profiling is one of them.

And yet again, a special thank you to the security guards of Israel who put their bodies and their lives in front of ours every day. May God bless you. May God watch over you. May God keep you safe.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Message to Israel and France

The first rule in writing is to know your audience. Without that important information firmly planted in your brain, you are likely to misdirect and therefore fail to achieve your goal...that's if you have a goal beyond the simple need to express your thoughts. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

Today, I have a goal but my "audience" regularly is a bit different than my target and yet, I'll share my thoughts here anyway.

I have a message for the French - I'll post that below. I also have a message for Israelis...and this is it:
Yes, they should and they don't.

No, I don't understand why they don't and yes, it's pretty obvious that they should.

No, I don't believe they will change today because of yesterday.

But...but when human beings are in pain, it is our job to reach out and offer them the comfort we can and to share in their sorrow...

And yes, there is a part of me that wants to ask where they were when I cried, when my world shook and seemed so dark.

but...but when human beings are in pain, it is our job to reach out and offer them the comfort we can...

And deep down, in silence and between ourselves, we are allowed to ask when they will share in our sorrow, our pain...

But right now, human beings are in pain and my heart aches for them so deeply, and the tears fall from my eyes this morning because human doesn't matter what religion, it doesn't matter their nationality. It doesn't matter the color of their doesn't even matter if they have or will share in our sorrow in the future. For now, share the message that we who know terrorism, know the pain of loss, we mourn with you. As simple as that. Leave the "but..." off for now. They are in too much pain to hear it and it isn't like we haven't tried so many times in the past to make them see.

And now, a message for France:

Don’t let the anger consume you. Today, the sun rose over your beautiful country, as it did over mine. Today, you are free in a way that they never will be. You have the capacity to celebrate life; something they don’t. Life is your ally, hate and death is theirs.

Today, the pain will consume you, the anger choke you. Years later, you will remember where you were when this happened, what you were doing. Stop at this horrible moment and look around you. See who cries with you; remember who celebrates your agony.

Israel shares your sorrow. Deep down inside, we want to ask why you don’t seem to share in ours, but We won’t right now because your pain is all-consuming, and we feel it from here. They were innocent people; families out celebrating. They did nothing wrong. It doesn’t matter why they were walking there or where they live.

If they lived in Paris and not Nice, would that change the horror? If they came all the way from Jerusalem or London or New York, would that justify killing them?

What you know in your heart right now, you have to remember after the shock fades, after life returns, as it always does, to normal. There is no justification for terror – no matter where the girl’s bedroom was, no matter where the father was driving, no matter what avenue they chose to walk down to celebrate on what should have been a wonderful day in France.

From New York to Washington to Jerusalem to London. From Tel Aviv to Kiryat Arba to Otniel to Afula. From Brussels to Madrid to Bali to Istanbul and now to Nice. There is no justification for terrorism. It isn’t about the occupation; it isn’t about God. It isn’t about some perceived injustice; and it isn’t about finding a path to peace.

It honestly doesn’t matter what it is about. All that matters is that 80 people were murdered last night, hundreds wounded and terrorized. All that matters is that today, Israel and people around the world share in your sorrow.

Today, there are only two groups of people in the entire world. Those that mourn, and those that celebrate. France, open your eyes and see these groups. Europe, take notice. America, remember.

Israel shares in your sorrow and we pray for the speedy recovery of all those who were hurt.
France, we mourn with you. We feel your pain to the depths of our souls. May God send you comfort in these horrible hours.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Six Children...TWO Only ONE WEEK Old...Could Have Died Last Night

This is a man who went for a drive with his family. His wife and six children last night after Shabbat ended...perhaps he was on his way home, I don't know.

The two youngest of his six children are ONE WEEK OLD twins, the oldest a boy of 7. Eitan Finkel and his wife saw a terrorist with a gun directly in front of him. For some reason he will never understand, the terrorists hesitated long enough not to fire directly into a car with 8 people in it, six of them children.

They hit the side of the car, wounding Eitan in the leg. He managed to keep driving until he reached safety.

I keep writing that peace will will come when things like this don't happen. When families can drive safely without being shot. One week ago, in another attack like this one, the father was murdered, the mother critically injured, two children hurt.

This week there was a miracle...the car didn't overturn, no one else was hurt.

No one was killed...and so there is little outrage here in Israel, none in the world.

Friday, July 8, 2016

An Open Letter to Gideon Levy

Some background for those of you who don't know (probably most of the world). Gideon Levy has been writing for Haaretz for over 30 years, he is a bastion of the Israel left, valiantly rushing to defend the poor Palestinian agenda against all facts and truths. He is, what many of us term, a "self-hating Jew." Before I begin my letter, I’d like to take a second what that means. A self-hating person is someone who acts to harm himself, believing he is beneath contempt, without value or self-esteem. A self-hating Jew, however, is typically not so much concerned with bettering himself as ensuring that others live up to standards that are not only beyond the norm, but also self-defeating. A person who has a gun in their hands and is attacked by someone wielding a machete has little choice. Die or kill. A self-hating Jew will offer to arrange the funeral. The execution will take place, regardless of what choice the person takes. If they choose to die, the funeral will be physical and attended by many human rights activists, financed by the likes of George Soros, and hailed by the Obama administration. 

If the Jew decides to use the gun, there will still be a funeral. This time, it will be in the media, attended by a world that would more than likely have used a bomb to kill the attacker, rather than only the gun that was in their hands. Gideon Levy, of course, decided to comment on a news story that touched me personally this week. A female terrorist attempted to stab two soldiers at a bus stop in the area where my son's unit is now stationed. The attack, in its entirety, was videotaped on a car camera as the driver saw the attack and pulled to the side. The camera rolls and documents. There is no excuse, no question that this was clearly a terror attack and the soldiers acted in their own defense and that of any innocent civilian in the area (there were, though they do not appear on the video). Gideon's attempt to twist what was there can be read here (wow, do I hate to link to Haaretz). From the misleading title onward, Levy attempts to spin the tail. He fails miserably, as his paper usually does. Here's why:

An Open Letter to Gideon Levy,

Dear Gideon,

It’s hard to write to you without wondering if I’ll have to cleanse my keyboard and computer; whether it will forever be tainted by having wasted this time and effort. This week, we were provided with the perfect scenario. Every soldier’s mother’s nightmare and every advocates dream. The video was very clear. The soldiers did not attack Jamila Jabbar, who wished to martyr herself on Allah’s bed of hatred. Jabbar attacked them.

The video is so amazingly clear, I’m surprised you didn’t take the more obvious option of claiming it was staged. Yes, Jabbar approaches the soldiers slowly. By her actions, we are all pretty sure slow is a good description not only for the pace she walks, but her mental capacity as well.

The soldiers back away from her. Even you…wow, even you admit the soldiers did all in their power to avoid the very confrontation she demanded. They backed away, calling to her to stop. She continued. And then, you contradict yourself. “In the blink of an eye”? Well, Gideon, if there was enough time for her to advance several meters, for the soldiers to react and pull back…clearly, that eye was doing more than blinking.

You ask Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot to watch the video of the attack. What, are you stupid? Do you really think that Eisenkot hasn’t watched it? About 15 times? I’m up to about 10 and I’m just a mother…

You ask whether the teenager (do you happen to know the ages of the soldiers…that might surprise you)…but anyway, you ask whether the teenager threatened the lives of the soldiers? Well, duh…knife in hand, lifted high and prepared to stab them…that would be a yes.

Now could they have turned around and run, leaving her at a bus stop to stab the next unarmed Jew who came along? Well, yeah, probably, but you see, Gideon, the thing about that uniform they are wearing is that it is intended to represent the fact that it is their job to PROTECT the civilians of this country and so they are supposed to deal with any and all threats as they arise and this one, dear misguided Gideon, was a clear and present one.

Is this how soldiers are supposed to act? Well, to be very honest, I think that they took too long. I think that had a commanding officer been there, he’d have shot her several seconds earlier. More, he would not have fired only one bullet. Protocol would have called for BOTH soldiers to fire; several bullets each, unless there were other civilians around, which there were not…yet.

Are we proud of their behavior? Hell, yes. Fact is, Gideon, these soldiers did what they were trained to do and they gave her more of a chance to stop than most soldiers in Israel (and more than ANY soldier in any country for about 1,000 miles in all directions).  

You quote Eisenkot as saying that he didn’t want a soldier to empty a magazine on a girl. Gideon, I get the feeling you don’t know what a magazine is. See, it’s this plastic thing that holds, well, a lot of bullets. Not ONE single bullet that was fired at this poor, misguided, slow and terribly stupid terrorist who was desperately hoping to stab a soldier and get her one-way ticket to the staircase of martyrdom.

Then you ask another question – was shooting her in the stomach the only way to eliminate the threat? Hell no. They could have shot her in the head; they could have shot her in the heart. Given how close she was, they didn’t really have time to fool around with aiming for her legs or shooting in the air – but, if you were really wondering if there was another way besides the stomach, I have to admit, there was. Of course, we’d be burying her instead of treating her in our hospitals, but if you’d prefer that, maybe we can work on fixing the rules of engagement.

Then you get into math…I can tell, Gideon, that you’re probably good in writing but clearly, you suck at math. They collectively, these TWO soldiers, fired ONE bullet…so how was it two on one? You admit only one of the soldiers fired…oh right, I remember now, you thought the other one was supposed to attack her from behind without her noticing, right?

You ask another question that I’d like to answer – you ask “What do you think they’ll take away from their military service, from this incident?” Well, Gideon, I guess I should confess. Those soldiers were from my son’s unit so what they are going to take away from this is home baked brownies and a letter from me telling them that I am proud of them. As for the army, I’m hoping they give them a medal, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

And then you say maybe they’ll grow up one day. Gideon, they already have. If they thought Palestinian lives were cheap, they would not have hesitated for a second, and they would have shot her through the heart. And because they did act as they were supposed to, thank God (and no thanks to you), they will grow up. And no, I don’t think they’ll ever regret protecting their lives.

Getting back to you, Gideon, I know that the soldiers will mature, will go on to live productive lives, marry, have children and always remember that they are alive today because they didn’t listen to self-hating Jews who were ready to plan their funerals. Those soldiers will be strong and good citizens of our country. They will dedicate their lives to protecting this land and hoping that someday that strong stand will lead to a meaningful and real peace agreement.

I can only wish that we could say the same about you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

There's Desperate and There's Stupid

I can't resist this anymore and so, being as this is sort of my place to express my inner most feelings, here goes. I think Israelis and Jews have been desperate many times in our history. There's desperate, and then there's stupid. Desperate is when you do everything you can to achieve your goal because, basically, you have nothing to lose. In 1948, I firmly believe that the Jews were victories against five well armed, well-trained armies because there really was no "back" button, no return, no option to lose. We had our backs to the wall and no one was going to step in and defeat our enemies...and so we did.

In 1948, desperate to save the besieged Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem, hundreds of men walked dozens of kilometers to smuggle in food and medicine and smuggle out the elderly and the young.

We were desperate to bring Jews home from all over the world who were in danger and so we flew to Yemen and brought them back; we flew to Ethiopia; we flew to Uganda. We bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq and a wannabe nuclear plant in Syria. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I fully believe that we are coming up on the desperation point in Iran as well. We will act - no, not desperately this time, but conclusively.

So, that's desperate. I'll put in here that the Palestinians are not desperate. Their quality of life in Israel is far above what it is in most Arab countries. They have access to better medical care, earn more, have longer average life spans and lower infant mortality rates here in Israel than elsewhere in the Middle East. They have access to shopping, plenty of food and water, sunshine, clothes, even schooling. In 1948, it was life or death for us, and we chose life. In each of the other cases, it was the same. This has never been a life and death struggle for the Palestinians.

No one is threatening their lives; no one is stealing their ability to work and lead productive lives and for the vast majority of Palestinians that I've spoken to, including Halil who works in the building where I do and with whom I talk on a weekly basis, at least, he is interested only in the quality of his life and that of his family. He wants to be able to get to work; he wants to be able to ride the train without worries.

He comes to me when there has been an attack and looks at me with the saddest eyes and when I cry, he tells me there will be peace...someday, though neither of us believes we will live to see it. Halil is not desperate, and he's not stupid.

Stupid is when you know going in to battle that the only outcome is death. We've been there too but not often and Israelis tend to be Captain Kirk playing Kobayashi Maru. When the rules say logically that we will be defeated, we change the rules and do the unexpected.

And so, from the jaws of defeat, we tend to grab victory, develop the undevelopable, create a weapon that knocks down missiles and, with the grace and blessings of God, beat even the best odds predicted.

Despite the illogical victories in 1948, 1967 and 1973, Israel still works hard to prepare and understand the dynamics of a fight, the possible outcomes, etc.

Stupid is when you don't do that. Stupid is when there is no possibility of victory, when defeat stares you in the face and you go for it...and really stupid is when you don't really even have desperation on your side...just stupidity.

I'll give you a few examples.

A couple of months ago, astounded guards watched as an Arab raised a knife, screamed "Allahu Akbar" and ran towards them. Gee, they fired. The Arab died.

Stupid. Knife versus gun - gun wins. Every time.

Yesterday, an Arab woman went at two armed soldiers with a knife. They aimed their rifles at her...and they pulled back...and she continued forward.

Almost in slow motion, they pulled back further, likely ordering her to stop and she moved forward, knife held ready for attack...and so, as one would expect...yup, they shot her.

Stupid. Knife versus gun - gun wins. Every time.

Today, an Arab man rammed his car into an army vehicle. Inside the army vehicle were three soldiers - all lightly hurt as ever so gently, the army vehicle rolled to its side.

The Arab in the car that smashed engine first into a massive, fortified jeep...didn't do so well. Like the Arab woman from yesterday, he's in critical condition.

And so a new dynamic to the equation. When you ram a fortified jeep with...oh, my boys are going to kill me...I'm so bad with cars. I'll tell them it's a silver car. They'll tell me make, model and year. I'm going to guess - I could be wrong but let's just go with my guess because it's the best I can do - so like...when you ram a fortified jeep with a Subaru...the Subaru is going to lose.


Surrendering Our Heritage

Imagine a person living 60 years with the name his parents give to him and then suddenly, neighbors come over and decide to call him something else. His name was Yisrael. From the time he was a child, family and friends called him Izzy. Izzy lived next to a guy and they became friends. The friend loved the Marx brother's movies and people nicknamed him Groucho. When Groucho became friends with the more quiet Izzy, people started calling Izzy "Harpo".

At first, Izzy smiled and thought it was funny.  But after a while, even his children and grandchildren started calling him Harpo. Neighbors wrote, "Harpo" on his mailbox and as new neighbors moved in, others quickly told them that Izzy was called Harpo. This went on for a few years. More and more, Izzy realized that in accepting the name that others gave to him, he was losing a part of himself, denying his roots and the name his parents had given to him.

Then, one day, Izzy's great grandson came to visit. He was three years old and when he saw his great grandfather, he ran over to him, hugged him and said, "I love you, Harpo."

And Izzy realized that in accepting the name that others had given to him, he had lost a piece of himself. He began to try to shake off the name, It was his name, his life...and yet others got annoyed and insisted that Harpo was the name he should use, the name others recognized.

I had an aunt. Her name was Phyllis. She hated the name and after struggling for a while, she changed it to Pia. She lived most of her life with that name and when she died, the name Pia was the only one most people knew.

I have friends who moved to Israel and decided that they wanted to be called by their Hebrew names. Sol became Shlomo; Marty became Mordechai. Or, to be more accurate, they adjusted how others referred to them by their preference.

The names Israel and Judea and Samaria have been associated with this land for thousands of years. A mere 68 years ago, Jordan began referring to these areas as the West Bank of the Jordan River. That the world refers to this land as the West Bank is not surprising; much of the world barely recognizes Israel at all. That we refer to it as such is a symptom of our losing ourselves. We deny our roots when we called this land anything but what it has been in our hearts for 2,000 years. No, I do not live in the West Bank. I might live on the west bank of the Jordan River but the hills to the east of my home, the ones I can see right now as I gaze out my window, are the hills of Judea. As I leave my home to drive towards the Dead Sea, it is the Judean Desert I enter.

What is in a name? What difference does it make if we refer to this land as the West Bank or Judea and Samaria? The answer is everything. We lose our souls, more, we surrender our identity. We sacrifice our past, diminish the incredible connection we have with this land.

And worse, we allowed quasi-Israeli media outlets to damage our standing in the world by catering to their ghetto mentality. When someone who lives in this area writes that it is the ultra-right who use this terminology, we all lose.

I live in the land of Israel, my home, my heart. My home graces the mountains of Judea. When he dies, it will be Yisrael written on his tombstone, not Harpo. His neighbors can recognize his name or call them whatever he wants, but his family must know. This is what he was born, this is how he should live.

Two of my children and all of my grandchildren have been born in this land. We will name it as it was, as it is. The larger question is not why we want to be known by our ancient and reborn name, but why others seek to take it away and more, why we let them.

Judea. Samaria. Yehudah and Shomron. Home. Ours. Forever. Our heritage, our rights, our history and our future really IS in the name.

We are Israel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Marketplace of the Left: Times of Israel Censors a Soldier's Mother


I posted a comment to the Times of Israel right now on an article attacking a blogger for explaining why he is no longer comfortable blogging at the Times of Israel...

Within about a minute, my comment was removed. Marketplace of Ideas? Yeah, not...

Anyone who wants to borrow my comment and post it...please do - I think everyone should copy and paste this...until they either allow freedom of speech or they change their slogan to "the marketplace of the left" and their name to the Times of Palestine.

The article attacking the blogger is here: Looking for a Fight in All the Wrong Places and attacks a fellow journalist for his outrage and his decision to leave the Times of Israel after writing well over 100 posts for them.

Against my better judgment, I'll ask that you go to that article and consider posting my comment in your name. The Times of Israel is wrong, and so is the author of this article.

My comment (the one that was deleted...did I mention that they are cowards?) is here:

Actually, if you read the post made by the Times of Israel (referenced in my article: The Friggin Times of Israel) you'll note that the complaint is even stronger than in the article you cite. It is interesting that in their coverage of the Tel Aviv terror attack, Tel Aviv as a noun (a city) was only referenced once; other times, as adjectives to explain which police force, which hospital, whatever. In the article on Hallel's murder, the terror attack was referenced as a "stabbing attack" while the Tel Aviv attack wasn't called a "shooting attack" but a "terror attack. And more - Hallel "died' but the victims in the Tel Aviv attack were all "killed"...they didn't die...they were killed (actually, to be honest, they were murdered).

And reference to Kiryat Arba as a settlement appears something like three or four times in that short article - it's a settlement, a settlement, a settlement. Yeah we got that...given that Tel Aviv, where four people were murdered is only referenced once, isn't it interesting that it was imperative to mention FOUR times, that Kiryat Arba is a settlement

As others have pointed out, using the term "West Bank" is clearly political and without question, the Times of Israel considers it "occupied" even if we were lucky enough this time to avoid that. But when used in relation to the bedroom in which Hallel was murdered, that is most definitely intentional and quite despicable and I commend "the author" for announcing publicly his disgust at yet another outrageous article attempting to blur lines and hide the truth.

I stopped writing for the Times of Israel several months ago after I was accused of "threatening" and "endangering" a writer/journalist/blogger simply by quoting the very outrageous words and clear incitement she used against an IDF soldier.

The fact is, I can name no less than five right-wing bloggers who have decided to give TOI a pass rather than put up with any more abuse.

How many different ways do you need it proven to you that the "West Bank" was definitely inserted in there to sway opinions? Hallel wasn't murdere; she died. It wasn't a terror attack; it was a "stabbing attack". and, of course, it wasn't just a bedroom where a child was brutally was a "West Bank bedroom". I'm a bit surprised, given that you live in the "West Bank" that you are not angered by this attempt, yet again, to separate this poor child from other Israelis.

I think criticizing someone's post like this, attempting to censor someone's opinion, is sadly typical of the Times of Israel. The original author has the right to his very correct opinion that feeds into the overall anti-Israel bias against Israel all over the world. When our own bloggers and journalists and media outlets can't report and discuss such a horrible act using the correct words, what chance is there that others will get it right?

Hallel was murdered. In a terror attack. In her bedroom. Get it right; or don't write it at all.

Entebbe and the Jews

I have few childhood memories. I don't know why. It seems that I blocked out so much. My mother tells me of the time that my brother had an asthma attack and couldn't breathe. She was told to put him in the car and drive him around with the wind blowing in his face. Sounds absurd to modern medical practices, but this is what she was told and this is what she did, She put her three children in the car and drove around, hoping to help my brother breathe better.

My mother says, "do you remember the time we drove around with Eric?" It is a traumatic memory for her and for me...nothing. She tells me I was there, that I was concerned. I remember nothing. I don't know how old I was, but I'm four years older than my brother so it stands to reason if he remembers it, I should.

I remember one thing from kindergarten - the first day. I remember very little about elementary school...the walk, a few teachers, at 6, when my brother was locked in the school (and he remembers nothing, while I still carry a discomfort of locked places).

But I remember July 4, 1976. I was 15. It was America's 200th birthday and my father took us to the shores of the Hudson River, perched high about the river watching the tall ships go by.  I remember looking at the ships - they were very beautiful and as they passed, people all around us clapped.

And I was outraged. I sat there refusing to find joy and comfort. In Entebbe, Jews were being held hostage. Jews only, because like the Nazis the Palestinian and German terrorists had separated out the Jews to keep them hostage. It was a nightmare and the only real help for these people was something like 2,000 miles (over 3,500 kilometers) away.

I had brought a radio to listen to the news. They were going to die, I was sure, all while I sat there on a beautiful, sunny summer day on the shores of the Hudson River. And then the news announced a rescue attempt had been made. Rescue attempt? How was that possible?

The Israelis.

Oh God, I thought. Fear had turned to terror. Oh God, more Jews in danger. Israel flew to Uganda?

Some casualties...I was crying. I don't remember seeing another ship that day. Everyone around me was listening to the radio. They did it! They did it! We cried and laughed and listened and prayed. There are some casualties, the radio announces and we stop laughing and celebrating. But most of the hostages are safe and on a plane back to Israel. We are back to worrying, not knowing if we should laugh or cry, dance or sit and wait to hear more.

I don't remember going home that day. I don't remember the moment I learned that the commander of the operation, Yoni Netanyahu, had been killed in the attack.

I remember only the feeling that we had, finally, explained to the world why Israel had to exist. Who else would fly 2,000 miles to save just over 100 Jews?

On July 9, 1976, just five days later, the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israel for violating Uganda's airspace.

I remember thinking that I should be outraged; I remember thinking how strange it was that I didn't care. Forty years later, I still don't.

We did then what we had to do. I wasn't an Israeli then, at least not in body. My heart had already been dedicated, my future promised. I once heard a US Congressman who was Jewish explain how his fellow politicians came up to him in the wake of Israel's Six Day War and congratulated him on the amazing victory, "and damn if I didn't say 'thank you.'" he explained.

That's the way it was after Entebbe too. It was a victory of all Jews. A bittersweet one because it would have been so much better if everyone had come home safe. But it was a victory; it was a justification. For this, we survived the Holocaust; for this we recreated our homeland. For this, there is an Israel.

So that the next time the Nazis come, and they do and they will, Israel will stop them; Israel will defy them. Israel will fly thousands of miles to save our people. We did it. We do it.

And they condemn us? We laugh at them; we smile and pat each other on the backs. We triumphed at Entebbe because we didn't let them murder our people. When no other nation would step forward; while the world waited for tragedy...our soldiers flew into hell to save our people.

America celebrated 200 years of freedom that day; but Israel celebrated the culmination of 2,000 years of exile. Never again will you separate us to the silence of all. We will not be silent ever again.

For this you condemn us? As with so many things the UN does, that vote spoke more about the abyss into which the UN has fallen than anything about Israel.

May God bless the memory of Yonatan Netanyahu. Your memory lives on, as does your name, in the land and people of Israel.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Home Away Home Away Home Away

One of the hardest things you have to adjust to as a parent in the army, is that moment when on a whim, the army changes your life. It was all set. David would be home last Shabbat and this coming Shabbat.

And then, it was changed to not this Shabbat and not next Shabbat, but instead two days in the middle of the week. It was about finding the good in that. He usually comes home on Friday, exhausted and needing to rest. Laundry, sleep, Shabbat, packing, and back to the army. If he is lucky, he goes out Saturday night to see some friends or meets others in the neighborhood. Often, not even that.

Reconciled to him having more time to do things and go places, I accepted that I would find a way to be home a bit during those two days; maybe we'd all go out to dinner at least or try to organize a family dinner...

And then it changed again, he won't be coming home today or tomorrow. Now, he will come home Thursday and be home for the Shabbat he wasn't supposed to be here.

It shows, in a way, the growth that I have achieved as a soldier's mother. The first time Elie called and said he wouldn't be coming home after all, I was very upset. Almost enough to call some non-existent officer in the army, whose telephone and name I didn't know, and demand they send my baby home.

Now, I accept it so much more easily; feel so much less devastated. He'll be home when he can; perhaps if I am lucky and blessed and it is quiet this summer, maybe he'll be able to join us on a family vacation near the end of the summer. For now, I tell myself not even to hope.

He'll be home this weekend. I'll hold on to that and hope it's true. I'll accept that really nothing matters beyond him being safe.

For now, he has been given a job that he finds somewhat boring and yet, it is actually a measure of their trust in him, a recognition that he can handle this added responsibility. So, he isn't outside there at the checkpoint right now but rather inside an air-conditioned place, at least for now. I can't really complain, though he will a bit.

It has always been, from the very first, a lesson in learning to take each day as it comes. For perhaps one of the first times, after more than eight years of this, I guess it is finally sinking in. The disappointments aren't so deep; the excitement banked until he actually walks through the door.

Day by day. It is the only way, when you are a soldier's mother (or father, or wife, or sister, or brother).

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