Sunday, October 4, 2015

BBC's Changing Headline

There are certain fundamental facts of life that everyone knows. What those facts are can often differ according to gender, religion, race, nationality. Take two people and show them some incident and often they will come away with two different "facts."

I am, for the most part, thoroughly amazed by the world's impression of Israel (and Jews). I would think a simple view of facts would clarify so much and yet, it never seems to matter. I don't agree, but can understand, when the world tell us that our "owning" the land of Israel 3,000 years ago does not impact on today. But how can the world honestly believe all our problems began in 1967, by the so-called "occupation." Seriously?

The Palestine Liberation Organization - a terror group created to eliminate the Zionist presence in "their" homeland, was created in 1964. No attacks until the Zionists were granted a state of their own? What about the murderous attacks on Hebron in 1929?

This was Palestinian land before Israel occupied it? What about the fact that the British took 2/3 of the Palestine mandate and created a fictitious land named Jordan? What about the fact that we agreed to the Partition Plan in 1947 and it was the Arabs that chose war and then started whining when they lost?

History does not determine truth; that is for sure.

Perhaps it is headlines...yes, maybe the media is so powerful it can manipulate information and truth to influence opinions. That is actually closer to reality than any of us would probably be comfortable with.

Last night, a 19 year old Palestinian decided that the Third Intifada had arrived. He posted to Facebook and then he went out to kill some Jews. Brave "man" that he was - he attacked a Jewish family, stabbing the father and mother. A Jewish man in his 40s, a father of 7, ran out from his home to try to stop the attack. A video taken by Arabs in the marketplace shows they did nothing (ran away and listened and one even casually drank from a can) as they listened to the terrified shrieks of a small child being shot in the leg.

The father of the two children and the father of the seven children were murdered; the mother of the two children is in critical condition. The two year old was shot but will survive; another small child was miraculously uninjured.

The terrorist was eliminated. Shot. Dead.

BBC covered the story.

Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two? First, why was Jerusalem attacking anything? Second, who killed the two? What two?

The Palestinian MURDERED two innocent people. This headline is an outrage, a distortion of the facts. It is a clear attempt to influence your view.

Clearly, you are meant to sympathize with the murdered two, but BBC doesn't want you to blame the poor Palestinian...after all, he was shot dead.

Israel's Facebook exploded with anger. It isn't enough that Palestinian terrorists gunned down a father and mother in front of their four children on Thursday; it isn't enough that cars, buses, and trains are relentlessly being attacked by rock-throwers who by-and-large are getting away with it. It isn't enough that two mothers have been injured in these attacks - both with young babies in the car that miraculously escaped harm. It isn't enough that in last night's attack, another mother is struggling for her life, her two children having already lost their father.

Apparently, even BBC realized that the headlines was nearly as abhorrent as the attack itself.

A short while after untold numbers of protests, BBC modified the heading.

It's an improvement but considering that the Palestinian was dead on the ground with clear proof of his identity and his admission that he died as part of the third intifada, the quote marks are rather telling.

Apparently BBC realized that this too was insulting. The victims are clearly identified, at least some of them (and the missing part is telling...more on that in a moment), so why do they hesitate to identify the murderer? The terrorist? The "man" who thought murdering two fathers and attacking a woman and two babies was acceptable?

BBC does mention that "two others were also injured in a knife attack." Well, there we go with the framing again. The two others that were injured included a two year old baby who was shot. Shot because when Rabbi Lavi ran out to try to save the family under attack, he too was stabbed. The Palestinian terrorist then grabbed his gun and aimed it at the other victims.

Soon, the headline changed again.

It now reads "Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in Old City".

The BBC article then goes on to explain about the deaths of the two Israelis. BBC reports on another attack that happened a few hours later - reporting that an Israeli teenager was stabbed and his assailant was also killed by police.

Teenager is really a way of cleansing the act. After all, the murderer himself was a teenager, wasn't he? The boy...yes, boy...that was attacked was 15 years old.

The article also mentions that the attack "comes two days after an Israeli couple were shot dead in the West Bank."

No mention of the fact that as the sun rose over Israel today, there are fourteen orphans. Fourteen children who have lost their fathers (and four that have also lost their mother in the same attack).

BBC does not mention these children, yet they too are victims of these attacks. BBC does not mention families in mourning, communities in shock.

And they don't mention the tears that come to my eyes as I hear my two year old granddaughter call out to her father, "Abba! Abba!" downstairs as I write this.

One crime from the Nazi era that is rarely mentioned was in fact the very crime that enabled the Holocaust to happen - the dehumanization of Jewish lives. When you call a fifteen year old a "teenager"; when you don't mention the shooting of a two year old; when you don't mention 14 orphans; when you call victims "settlers" instead of Jews, Israelis, or simply parents or human beings...all this leads again to the dehumanization of the Jew.

It happened countless times in history. It cannot be allowed to happen here in our homeland. Each victim has a name; each child must be mentioned. The one who chose to be dehumanized was the Arab terrorist. I have mentioned his age but will not mention his name. Instead, I will curse it and pray that his memory be erased - perhaps the worst curse you can give a person according to Judaism.

"Yamach shemo" - erase his name, God, please.

And please bless the Henkin, Lavi, and Benito orphans and watch over them, bless the widows with strength in the coming days. Please grant Adele bat Miriam (Adele, daughter of Miriam) and Natan ben Adele (Natan, son of Adele (and Aharon)), a full and speedy recovery from their wounds.

And please bless the world with clarity of vision to see the threat that faces Israel, and them.

And please continue to bless and watch over Israel. You have taken back to Heaven four amazing souls, whatever tasks you assigned them in this world having been completed. It will be hard, so hard, for those left behind to understand and through their pain accept that these four can now do more in the world-to-come.

Today, we will bury two fathers as on Friday, we buried a father and a mother. Please God, bless Israel with peace.

Friday, October 2, 2015

From Paradise to Pain

Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife Na'ama Henkin were murdered last night. They were shot as they drove with four of their children in the car. The children were not physically hurt. The car was found in the middle of the road...Rabbi Henkin's body was found outside the car; Na'ama's body was found lifeless inside. The children are unhurt but aware. The army is pursuing...hunting...

Yesterday, I was sitting beside the Sea of Galilee, as at peace as a human being can be. The water glistened, the sun sparkled. We have been blessed, so blessed, my husband and I. Five children; three of them married. Three grandchildren and with the help of God (and our children), we hope to welcome many more. It doesn't really get more perfect than yesterday. A beautiful sea, a surprisingly uncrowded beach, smiling faces around us, great food, a comfortable breeze, a child sitting on my lap munching on an apple as I turned it for her.

We came home tired but happy...until my phone beeped. Two parents were shot; four children in the car but unhurt. Another beep moments later. The parents had died; four orphans...only there are six because two weren't in the car, my son told me later.

Only it gets worse. The children in the car range in age from nine years old to four months old. The nine year old, at least, will remember the moment her/his parents were murdered. And still worse, a tragedy by itself, the four month old will never remember, never know the parents that were lost last night.

And the levels of tragedy go deeper and deeper. While not all infants are breastfed, statistics say that as many as 87% of all babies in Israel are. And so I thought about who would feed this baby...if it cried for food before and after the children were found.

Four months old...who will nurse this 4-month-old child? Yes, yes, there is formula so we all know the child will not starve, and hopefully grandparents, uncles and aunts and, of course, five traumatized but loving siblings. But the wonder of breastfeeding a child, of holding it in your arms...and for the child, that close bond...tragically cut short. In the grand scale of things, it is still a tragic result of yesterday's attack.

And just a couple of days, Israel will celebrate the most joyous of holidays - Simchat Torah - the happiness that is ours because God gave us the Torah. Last year, Rabbi Henkin danced with his children, to celebrate as we read the final chapter of the Torah...and then immediately begin it again. Will his children dance this year? Who will dance with them in the years to come? Fathers all over Israel lift their children onto their shoulders and dance with them...on whose shoulders will these children sit now?

Who will take these children on vacation? Yes, yes, there are likely grandparents and aunts and uncles...but this void, this question of who...when earlier today that question did not exist...this adds another level to the tragedy.

Forever, they will be orphans, no matter who steps in to take care of them in the coming years. One of the greatest blessing God can give to a parent is to see them all married; to see them all have children. I see my parents - with three married children, eleven grandchildren, and now four great-grandchildren. That is life.

Eitam and Na'ama Henkin never lived to see their children grown, will never see them marry. They will never know their grandchildren, never know the blessing of great-grandchildren. There are so many levels of tragedy here; and as each one comes to mind, the heart breaks that much more.

Hamas has praised the attack, calls the murders "heroic." Heroic?

This was a family traveling in their car. Cold-blooded murder is not heroic and sickening is a culture or world that would think it is. The glee they express, adds more suffering to the family, more tragedy, more levels.

Soon, the anger will come - it is one of the stages we Israelis experience. First comes the crippling pain, the overwhelming sadness that terror has struck again, that new tragedies will unfold in the coming hours and days. Six orphans, the youngest an infant still. Parents who have lost their children and may well have to become parents again to these grandchildren; a community that has lost friends and neighbors.

After the pain and the sadness, comes the anger and the grief. In our anger, we will curse the murderers and those who are now celebrating this cowardly act.

After the anger and the grief, comes acceptance. We accept that this deed was done. That the Palestinians who attacked this young family thought in some twisted way that they were serving their people, their God.

What value to this world is a God that craves death, destruction, murder? In the Jewish religion, it is not God, but Satan that values this darkness.

I cannot speak for Islam or for the Palestinians. Supposedly, Mahmoud Abbas does. At least, he did during his speech before the United Nations. The lies he told seem more bitter today than they did even a few hours ago.

"We are working on spreading the culture of peace and coexistence between our people," said Abbas. And in the Israeli mind comes the thought that yes, we saw what was spread last night - bullets and blood. No culture, no peace, no coexistence was spread.

Abbas spoke of the Palestinians' "cultural, humanitarian and spiritual contributions to humanity from the start." I'm honestly at a loss to know what cultural contributions Palestinians have brought to humanity, what great humanitarian gestures, what spiritual contributions?

Jesus was a Jew who lived in the Jewish nation known as Judea. Only Abbas would have the nerve to get up before the world and claim, "Palestine is a country of holiness and peace. It is the birthplace of Christ, the messenger of love and peace." On any other day, his absurd attempt to hijack my people's history would be funny but today it is simply pathetic and tragic.

The mythical Palestine that Abbas dreams of is merely the birthplace of terrorism, hatred, war, and death.

And though Israel is focused now on the levels of tragedy that have hit our nation and the Henkin family in particular and the community of Neria, where the Henkin family lives, the reality is that the Palestinians themselves continue to suffer through levels of tragedy as well.

First and foremost is the tragedy of leadership. They have consistently chosen leaders that lead them to violence rather than to peace. Never have they had a leader that fought for peace as any long-term solution or any resolution other than one that would give them full domination of "Palestine" from the river to the sea.

Then, there is the tragedy of their children. This past week, several young Palestinians have been caught throwing rocks, firebombs, and shooting fireworks at soldiers.

And the tragedy of lost opportunities. Israel has offered numerous opportunities to negotiate a long-term, lasting settlement. The closer an agreement seems, the fast an Intifada is launched to spur the region into yet another downward spiral of violence and death.

Last night, it was Jewish blood that was spilled in this never-ending quest they have. For now, we will focus on the Henkin parents, who must be buried later today and mourned by family, friends, neighbors and a nation that has no choice, no other option but to choose, again and again, life. We will mourn and grieve and the Henkin children will be raised - not in hatred but in love. They will not be taught that the solution rests in violence, in revenge.

They will be raised to dream of a day when no other child - Palestinian or Israeli - is suddenly turned into an orphan because of blind hatred and fanaticism.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Death Comes to those Who Plot Against the Jew

An Open Letter to the Commander of Iran's Army, Ataollah, Saleh

Dear Ataollah,

I'm glad I'm not you. I didn't think to start this letter quite like that, but maybe it's the right way. You are the commander of Iran's army and you have promised to destroy my country at all costs. That's a heck of a promise, I have to tell you.

Many have tried...including some from the same land you now occupy. For his promise, Haman of ancient Persia was hanged from the very tree he prepared to execute Mordechai, the Jew. Death comes to those who plotted against the Jew. All that Haman had, was given to the Jews and to this day, his name brings laughter to every generation of our people.

Hitler promised and today, for the grandfather he murdered, there are seven children that carry my husband's grandfather's name. The memory of Yeshaya Zev is blessed; Hitler forever cursed. For the people he reviled, there is a nation reborn and each day we walk in sunshine, even on the rainiest of days, because we are home.

Amalek promised...yeah, you probably never heard of him, and that was, in a large part, thanks to the Israelites. Yes, in Israel, Hebrews, Jews, even then, more than three thousand years ago. He attacked the weakest, showing no mercy and so he and his people are no more.

You said that “Israel only barks. No matter how much weapons are given to [it], we are going to destroy them. We will promise this task will be done.”

What great military battles has Iran fought? It's a question...Google is one of my best friends so I asked, "Google, what great battles has Iran fought?"

So, using another of my friends - Wikipedia, I learned about your history a bit. I had fallen out of touch after the Jews of Shushan, Persia were saved. With a little help, I covered your history from 678 BCE to 2015 CE (a period of 2693 years). Amazingly enough, of those approximately 2,700 years, you've spent 1,528 of them at war with someone, and often several someones at the same time. So, how'd that go for you? Well, let's check.

Rounding the numbers out a bit, you've won 28 out of 59 wars. Not bad...just under half. Of course, 19 of those victories took place over 500 years ago. You were defeated 20 times...12 of them in the more recent part of your history.

You were involved in conflicts that lasted hundreds of years - that tells us you really have a social problem and likely need psychiatric assistance to learn to cope with anger issues and in general, just trying to get along. Apparently, you can't even get along with yourself - over 60,000 Iranians were Iran...or so said Ayatollah Khomeini.

You don't get along with your neighbors, but I guess we can't hold that against you - we pretty much don't get along with our neighbors either. Of course, the reasons are different.

We are against extremism; that is what you hold dear. We value life; you take great pleasure in threatening it.

You say that Israel only barks...which of course completely contradicts all those lies that say we spend all our lives butchering, oppressing, occupying, torturing etc. The truth is though, that we do bark... a warning...and then, for those who do not listen, we follow the bark with the ideal bite, customized as needed to suit each situation. It might be a clandestine flight into Uganda to save predominantly Jewish victims of a hijacked Air France flight; it might be planes that fly into Yemen and Sudan to bring our people home.

It might be the IDF Air Force flying in to bomb a nuclear plant in Iraq, the makings of one in Syria, and, perhaps, one day soon, into Iran as well. The bark of Israel might or might not impress you, but the bite is guaranteed to shock you, perhaps even enough to push your country back into the Middle Ages when you actually won some wars.

I was wondering about your army and your air force and how it ranks compared to others. So Google again...Israel just misses the top 10 "most powerful armies in the world" ranking in at number 11. It is, by far, the smallest army relative to the top 10, but it was immediately cited as being very powerful. Good news for you, you managed to squeak into the top 20, ranked at number 18.

As for air force, well, you don't make the top 10...I mean, no where. In most places, you aren't mentioned; one got you in at 20. By contrast, Israel's air force was ranked anywhere from 3 to 8.

What about overall "best militaries in the world"? Well, Israel came in at a solid 11...not bad at all considering the size of our tiny country. The army you command, more than 15 times larger than Israel's in size...ranks at 22.

So, army for army and air force for air force, it seems Israel isn't the one that falls short. More importantly, as the US so kindly announced to the world, Israel has had nuclear capabilities for decades and yet, for a nation you accuse of being all "bark" - we've never threatened anyone with the use of those weapons. By contrast, you don't even have them yet, and have already repeatedly threatened Israel.

So bark for bark, Iran does seem to win that comparison. It is, sadly, the only one you can win.
Our country is stronger militarily and without question, our sons and daughters are more dedicated. But more:
  • According to the World Health Organizations, of 191 countries, Israel ranks at number 28...Iran ranks at number 93.
  • Infant mortality rates...Israel comes in at, well, I found you down at 108, right next to Turkey at 109.
  • Life expectancy - for men, Israel ranks tied at number 2; for women, Israel ranks tied with Canada, Sweden, Norway and others at number 11 (overall rank of 9th in the world). By contrast, you rank 69th for men; 98th for women (overall at 81).
  • Israel has laws against spousal abuse...Iran does not.
  • Sixty percent of labor judges in Israel are zero percentage in Iran because women aren't allowed to be judges.
  • Women's economic index (the measure of a woman's ability to participate in the economic environment of her country): Israel ranks 30th in the world...Iran is right down there at 117.
Lest you think the Israel beats Iran in everything:
  • Intentional homicide rates - Iran's is double compared to Israel (3.8 to 1.7 per thousand)
  • Honor killings are much more prevalent in Iran than in Israel
  • 80% of the Iranian population lives below the poverty line, as compared to 20% in Israel (and before you blame it on the sanctions, remember why the sanctions were first created - Iran was spending its money supporting global terrorism, not caring for its children).
  • Iran is one of five countries (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen) that allows the death penalty for children (defined as individuals under 18 years of age). By contrast, for all intents and purposes, Israel does not have the death penalty...only one person - Adolf Eichmann, was ever sentenced to death...and that was more than 50 years ago).
So, Ataollah, what this all comes down to is this. Your country is a mess and you can fix it by taking care of your women and children, improving your health facilities and lowering crime...or you can mess with Israel, a country ranked by the world as having a better army, air force, dedicated soldiers and the history and the might to answer your threats.

Before it is too late, read history. The facts are all there. My people has one land, not dozens. We have one home and it will forever be ours. It is the one place where we will raise our children without fear and if that means bringing Iran to its knees, you forget you are talking to a people that has successfully outlived the Babylonians, the Ancient Persians, the Ancient Egyptians, the Roman Empire, the Crusaders, the Amalekites, the Caananites, the Phoenicians, the Nazis...and, if need be, your people as well.

Remember the lesson...death comes to those who plot against the Jew.

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