Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hot Days of August Upon Us

It's very hot in Israel - actually, that's an understatement. It was hot last week, but reports say this week could well be much much worse. I've been sick for the last three weeks with a fever, running to doctors to do tests etc.

So the good news is that one doctor is convinced it is something that most people have (50-80% in the US; 90% worldwide) and I just got a particularly bad occurrence of it. I'm miserable.

David is home for a few weeks...he goes back to begin year 2 of his Hesder program for a few months, and then into the army in November. He's been doing the cooking for the last two weeks - asking questions and then just making decisions and going for it.

I feel once again like the mountain is coming towards me. It's still far enough away that I can see over it but I know as I get closer, all that is on the other side will disappear and all I'll see is the mountain, impossibly high, impossibly wide.

This is probably not the worst summer I've ever had in my life...mostly, it's just going along slowly. Last week, a stupid man did a horrible thing. Whatever you feel about homosexuality, no one has the right to take a knife in their hands and stab another person.

The Israeli police could not have appeared more incompetent if they tried. This man stabbed three people ten years ago...he was sentenced and served for 10 years. He was released 2 weeks ago...and went and did it again.

Immediately, from left and right, religious and secular, the act was condemned...and yet it wasn't good enough. The media continues to use it to bash the religious, even "settlers" - though I have no idea where this lunatic even comes from!

Then, to make matters worse, if they weren't already, arsonists set a fire in the Arab village of Duma and a baby died. Hebrew words of revenge were painted on the house.

Across the political and religious spectrum - this act was condemned. The police do not yet know who did it - though the media is having a field day quoting "security sources" with such meaningless phrases as "a long history of conflict" between Duma and nearby Jewish villages. Oh, okay, so that must mean the Jews did it because hey, Israel's been at war with them for 67 years!

It's hot and I'm tired and I'm sick...not at all a good combination. Air conditioning takes care of the first, sleep and pills the second and third but deep inside of me is an anger, a disgust that we are so quick to cut ourselves open and demand the world see we bleed.

No other nation in the world would do what we do - help so many others while being so isolated and alone. No other nation in the world would allow tens of thousands of rockets...two more today, to be fired at them.

No other nation would announce their guilt to the world even before we know that guilt is justified or even on us. I did not set that fire in Duma. I do not support anyone who burns my land...Arab or Jew.

I do not support arson, targeting an innocent family in their homes. Find the people who did this and lock them away. I condemn it...

Why is my condemnation not enough? Why must I admit to a guilt that I do not have? It is not my culture to support violence. It is not in my culture to support taking from others what is theirs.

How can you focus on one horrible act - while ignoring dozens of others simply because the others are routing. Of course the Arabs will riot on the Temple Mount and throw firebombs at security forces, of course they will stone cars and let's talk about what one moron did?

I'm so tired...

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, insure 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 1948, 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 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.

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