Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's NOT About the Settlements, Stupid

Ever see something and know you have to react?

Happened to me at about 3:00 a.m....

An article on Times of Israel, a site that has, more and more, taken a dangerous turn to the left. The latest article was more balanced than I expected, given the suggestive title, "It's the Settlements, Stupid."

But, despite many correct points, ultimately, as expected, the article wound around to the wrong conclusion. It's not about the settlements, it's about Israel.

It's About Israel, Stupid

The Europeans and the Americans are condemning us…again. The United Nations is upset with Israel…still. The Arabs are adamant – it’s the settlements that are the deterrent to peace.

It’s not the settlements. It’s the rockets; it’s their intransigence. It’s their stones, their firebombs, their knives. It’s our naivete, it’s our inability to stick to our convictions and demand peace for peace. It’s their tendency to use violence and our tendency to make excuses for it. It’s their media and it’s our media. It’s their cultural norms and it’s our cultural norms. It’s their leaders and it’s our leaders. The one thing it’s not, is the settlements.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Count your Blessings - Day 32

Today's blessing is something we take for granted...water.

It is an amazing gift - always. I always drive my kids crazy about taking water with them - a small 1/2 liter bottle...more or less. My older kids have mostly accepted this; my youngest one as well. Davidi, on the other hand...well, I still have work to do there.

Everywhere I go, I take a bottle of water with me.

Israel is, especially in the summer, a hot and dry country - water!

Water is the rain we receive as a blessing each year; water is how we water our plants and so necessary to watch our land thrive.

Water cleans away...

Water...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Count Your Blessings - Day 31

Right and wrong are often measured against each other, as are good and evil. It's an ageless philosophical discussion - without evil, is there really good? Without wrong, can we truly understand right? Without our enemies, can we really measure the true meaning of our friends?

I'm not sure I go along with all this negativity - that we have to have evil to understand good, that we have to have death to celebrate life, that we need to be pummeled by our enemies to be grateful for our friends.

But in having enemies, we sometimes have blessings. Long ago, I wrote that one blessing of having our enemies close is that we have our sons close to home as well as they fight to defend our land. Another blessing in having our enemies close is that we cannot ignore, even for a single day, the reality in which we find ourselves.

Our enemies help shape the image we have of ourselves. We see them dance when we mourn and we know that is not our way. We see them demand the return of killers - even those who have slaughtered children, and we know that is now our way.

We see them fire rockets at cities, not caring where they land. We hear the fireworks they fire in the air when we find the bodies of children they murdered. This is not our way, we think to ourselves, with such gratitude.

Our enemies covet our land but more, they covet what we have accomplished in 3,000 years of devotion to a way of life, a land, our God. They fail to understand that they too could establish themselves as a light unto other nations. They could fly around the world and help others; develop such amazing technologies that make the world better. They could have the best doctors, raise the most caring of children. All this they could have, if they value what we value and do what we have done.

They take our words - exile, diaspora, genocide - but they have not experienced this, know nothing of what these words really mean. Genocide is not the death of a few hundred in a war you waged against your enemy; genocide is the systematic murder of people who have done nothing. The Jews of Europe did not have tunnels under their homes; did not take to the rooftops to protect rocket launching sites.

The Palestinians make a choice, every day - as we do. They choose where to spend the billions of aid money given to them (on tunnels for smuggling and attacking; on luxury homes and cars for their leaders; on bunkers for Hamas to hide).

The Germans put us in ghettos in Europe - and we turned them into places of enlightenment. We established the schools because we knew, even facing such harsh conditions, children needed to be taught. We created charity funds because there is always someone who needs more.

Our enemies teach us compassion (not that they learn it). And so we feel, honestly, for the innocents that die in a war we didn't choose, yet again. When your country is fired upon daily, you do not have a choice and so we did what we had to do this summer. But we regret...we regret that Hamas cares as little about their own people as they care for ours.

Our enemies teach us perseverance - so long as they continue to hate, to attack, to fight...we have to as well. As Benjamin Netanyahu said long ago - if the Arabs stopped fighting, there would be peace. If we stopped fighting, there would be no Israel.

Our enemies teach us respect - of life, which they lack; of women, which they never show. They have taught us the value of our own democracy - real elections in which the outcome is not fully known until the votes are counted.

Our enemies teach us about living in an open society where men and women are more equal than not; where women can drive and vote and smoke and walk alone or with friends. They teach us that we are free and live in what can be called a very western society.

Our enemies teach us about tolerance, because they are not. They do not tolerate those who do not conform to their societal rules and so women, homosexuals, Jews, Christians and others are abused regularly. This is not how it is here in this land I love so very much.

There are many more examples I could give why having enemies can be a blessing. As hard as it can be, at times it helps clarify why you are as you are and what you don't want to ever be.

So, today's blessing...our enemies. May God bless them...with enlightenment, with freedom, with conscience. May they learn the value of life - ours, and their own. May they cherish their children enough to make them live and our children enough to let them live.

May they understand that helping others is the best way to live; demanding and begging others to help you not always good at all.

Dear Sweden

Dear Sweden,

The nation, the government, some of the people, the land...
You are idiots.


Sweden has stepped forward to recognize the independent State of Palestine - an impressive and bold action that shows their imagination is quite healthy, if not their sense of spatial time and reality.

A rabbi from the Swedish city of Malmo was attacked by men who hurled objects at him from a car and used anti-Semitic pejoratives.

What borders does this mythical country have? What is their national anthem? (The Martyr's March? Ode to Death and Destruction? O Say, Can You Fire a Rocket?). What steps have they taken for peace? Oh, and how do you feel about a "country" that worships its murderers and terrorists and dances at the deaths of innocents?

The Swedish Ambassador to Israel, who believes we should be impressed because he is trying to learn Hebrew (oh, joy), believes that "The reports in Israel ignored the true depth and complexity of the issue as well as the bigger picture."

Malmö’s former mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, who left his post in February, 2013 after 28 years in office, has blamed the rise in anti-Semitism on Jews and has advised them to distance themselves from Israel to remain safe.

I see, so like, in Stockholm they can see the situation in the Middle East more clearly than we here in Israel - what arrogance. What makes you think that you understand the situation at all, never mind more clearly than we do? Was it your country under the rockets this summer? Have you had buses blow up in the streets of your cities? Now, here is where a writer thinks...wait, how much do I know about Sweden? I'll be honest - not much and more than I need to :-)

So I did a quick Google search "bus explosion Sweden" just to make sure that I hadn't missed some major news items...

So the terrorist who blew up the bus with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria was from Sweden and in 1978, among the casualties of a bus bombing attack by Palestinian terrorists in Israel - there was at least one person from Sweden. I guess I was wrong - that must make them experts on the Middle East....not.

Classic anti-Semitic sentiments, such as Jewish control of the world’s banking system and media, permeate Swedish culture – through comedians or musicians – but are either ignored, defended, or glorified by media types as being enlightened. The Algemeiner, Sept, 2014


Magnus reiterated that his country "wants to continue in good and productive dialogue with Israel." Heck of a way to start that goal, Magnus - by rewarding the Palestinians who just fired 5,000 rockets at us this summer and are now doing their best to launch another intifada. Stoning attacks daily - including, again, last night on the light rail in Jerusalem? Yeah, moderates.

"Good and productive dialog"? By recognizing unilateral actions in exchange for...nothing? Again? By recognizing a country that has no borders? Tell me, is my home inside this entity you have dubbed a nation? By offering to welcome them among the family of nations? This group that has elevated suicide, martyrdom, and murder to a fine art? That is what you recognize?

Magnus adds that the statement from the Swedish government "came as the peace process has been on hold for some time, and we want to help the sides return to negotiations."

To be fair, it's kind of hard to have a peace process in the middle of a war, so please, give us a break. You want to help the sides return to negotiations? I see - and where were you during all the months Israel had a building freeze and the Palestinians refused to come to the table? Where were you when they decided to form a unity government between Fatah and the terrorist Hamas leadership in Gaza? Now you want to help the sides? By deciding on the end game before any negotiations would come about?  

On April 16, 2014, despite a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, the district of Skane, where Malmo is located, declined the Jewish community’s request to increase the number of security cameras around Jewish buildings.

One cannot ignore the political benefit for the Swedish government in taking this anti-Israel stand. After all, the Muslim population in Sweden is huge...in Malmo alone, the population is 30% Muslim. Magnus denies the politics and then admits to it, "The Social-Democratic party has for years said it would support Palestine and won the elections." Yeah, we noticed.

And why did the Swedish government single out Israel and the Palestinian issue to address rather than the ongoing massacre of people in Syria or the latest brutality of ISIS? 

Why did the Swedish government, who tried to soften this absurd decision by saying that they are seeking to encourage "mutual recognition" ignore the very mutual part of their comment - they are offering recognition of "Palestine" yet say nothing of the fact that half the Palestinian leadership refuses to recognize Israel at all, and the other half agrees, under certain conditions, to deign to recognize Israel if we agree to strip ourselves of our identity - maybe they'll recognize Israel, but never Israel as the Jewish State.

And the timing of this announcement? Right before Yom Kippur...coincidence, really. Not politics. And anyway, the Swedish Ambassador tried to explain "it was part of a very long speech." Actually, if you ask me, it was more a combination of political greed and the growing power of anti-Semitism in Sweden than anything else.

Like I said, Sweden, you are idiots.

Perhaps the scariest fact is that anti-Semitism in Sweden is rated as relatively low compared to the much larger and more populated countries - then again, there are only 15,000 Jews in Sweden.

(First printed on the Times of Israel site)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Most Talented Guest

We were very honored over the Rosh Hashana holiday to have a special family as our guests - the wife is a painter (see some of her work in the video below) and the husband is a wonderful Chazon (leads the prayers for the holidays) and sings at weddings (even can conduct the entire ceremony).

They have some gorgeous children who came along - polite, sweet, helpful...a complete delight...here are some of this songs -

First - the blessing said for a girl on Friday nights... (the boys is similar, but mentions men as role models rather than the four matriarchs mentioned in the blessing for girls).



And this is another beautiful song and video - English translations included:

Hearing Elie Talk

I won't write what he's saying - well, not too much. What he's doing is so incredible though. He's talking to a mother of a young man who is about to join an artillery unit in the coming months.

She's scared - 100% against him going in. She doesn't know what it means and she's struggling to understand. I was her 7 years ago. I was too dumb to think of talking to anyone else - she's clearly much smarter than I was, and she's going about it the right way.

We "met" virtually in a group and I offered her my phone number, veteran mother that I am. And what I see is that she asks all the questions I never thought to ask.

She asked me some questions - technical questions about how long and what about this, etc. that I didn't remember and Elie came upstairs and his first question was "how much doesn't he want to be in artillery?"

Her answer was that she doesn't him in 100%; and he's accepting it and even wants it a bit. Elie's first answer was, "so let him."

When I explained that she's 100% against, Elie smiled and signaled to give him the phone. He's pacing back and forth explaining everything - how I wish someone could have explained it to me back then.

I warned him to be gentle - she's a scared mother...but I guess he's had experience with that because he's going into details. "Obviously they want what's good for the army," he says, "but they also want what's good for him. They want them motivated."

And Elie just said, "I was in the same place. I had no clue. I don't think it's so much that you are afraid as that you don't know."

He's talking now (I know I said I wouldn't do this...I hope he won't kill me) - he's talking about the difference between some units and artillery ("They run up the hills, we drive up them. Why should we run up them?")

And now he's talking about the food - he's telling her about how he was able to cook noodles in a pot - inside the vehicle - I think the engine...I never heard this one. They didn't have time to make sauce, but they made the noodles, got there, and had a hot meal. So funny...I hope she's laughing.

I won't write any more - but think about where you live - would this scene happen? A soldier spending time to assure a mother that her son will have a good experience - where he will serve, what he will do on a daily basis. She lives about an hour away - we've never met. Would this have calmed me before he went in? Who knew? I started writing - maybe I should have found a soldier to talk to...

"What I've just told you is more information than they know to tell you," - the truth. He's telling her about how an officer will come and talk to him to answer all your questions, and then the boy's real commanding officer will come to her to answer all her questions and talk about her son.

Whatever they tell them will be similar to what Elie is telling them now. .

Before I put Elie on the phone, I told her that the best way she could get a picture of life as an artillery soldier (and an artillery mother) was to go back and read my blog from the beginning. After all, I said, I wrote it in real-time, versus now giving my memories from 7 years ago.

I don't know what they will decide in the end, but I am so proud of this army, this soldier and that future soldier, and that mother who had the courage to at least listen. Israel...


Count Your Blessings - Day 30

Bagels...definitely a blessing!

We fasted yesterday and broke the fast first with light cake and drink and then had bagels and lox. I know - food, but really, bagels and chocolate are not just food...and after a 25 hour fast...bagels are ... oh amazing.

So, today's blessing after a long fast is quite simply - bagels!

As for the fast, it went well - long but glad it is over.

Twenty-five hours of no eating or drinking leaves you thirsty, hungry, tired...bagels...definitely bagels...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Count Your Blessings - Day 28 and 29

Day 28

Today is October 3rd - my 31st wedding anniversary on the English calendar. It's also the day before Yom Kippur, which starts tonight. So first, I'm going to write two blessings - one for today and one for tomorrow.

The first blessing is anniversaries - we need to remember that we love our spouse every day, celebrate it every day. Sometimes, we forget...and that's bad.

We met when I was 17. I had heard his name from my sister the year before I started university - the same university where she was going; the same university where he was starting his senior year. My sister wanted to arrange for us to meet but the meeting never took place and then she flew to Israel to spend her junior year abroad and I moved into the same building where she had lived.

For my first two days in the university and at the dorm, people mentioned my sister...when I wanted to be known for myself. I'd spent much of my life following in schools after my sister and I wanted a break; I wanted to be known for me.

Then, I walked into the building and saw this guy...and he said, "I'll be you're Leeanne's sister."

Wonderful...yes, I answered, and who are you? He told me his name and we started to talk...and talk...and talk.

Two months later, on my 18th birthday, a bunch of friends arranged for us all to go out and celebrate. Lazer said he wanted to go to...and then one by one, all my other friends backed out. I was embarrassed - but he wanted to go out - our first date.

Married - five kids, two grandchildren and, God willing, more on the way. A home, a business, friends and community. A land where we belong, where we live proud of who we are, where we are and who our children have become.

Thirty-one years is a huge accomplishment, an amazing commitment. We fight sometimes; we drive each other crazy. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, we drive ourselves right to the edge and then remember the most basic of truths - we love each other very much.

So today's blessing is anniversaries...and love. 

Day 29

Yom Kippur is a unique and amazing blessing that God has given to the Jewish people. It is solemn, inspiring, awesome, and frightening. It is a day that allows you to erase the wrongs, start over again.

It's a day of fasting, a day in which God judges us, what we did, what we didn't do. How we acted, how we didn't act.

It is called the Sabbath of Sabbaths - if all the year we tell the world to go away on Shabbat, on Yom Kippur we do this on an unprecedented level. The fast starts tonight - a little before 6:00 p.m. - long before that - in the coming hours, all public buses will stop, all stores will close. The radio stations will go silent; the televisions will broadcast nothing.

For 24 hours, the majority of Israelis will fast and observe this holiday - some more than others, some in different ways. It doesn't matter - what matters is that we will unite, as we do each year.

Yom Kippur is a blessing, no matter how much it seems like such a difficult day.

May you and your family be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year - for a sweet year, a year of health and happiness, security and safety. May it be a year of peace - in our country and across our borders. May our sons and daughters grow; may our parents be healthy.

May God grant us parnassa - livelihood - and may we live in honor and be honorable. May God frustrate the plans of our enemies...as He did this year by disclosing the tunnels; may He protect us - as He did this past year - as missiles landed in open fields.

G'mar hatima tova.








Thursday, October 2, 2014

Count Your Blessings - Day 27

Today's blessing is a fast one - I have so much to do and then have to leave early. The fact that we live our lives against a clock, rushing to accomplish things is a blessing in itself.

When we have things to do, we feel useful, needed. So time itself is a blessing. I think we are the only creatures on this planet that live this way - we measure our lives in days, in months, in years, and in accomplishments. I met my future husband when I was 17, our first date was on my 18th birthday. I know the year we got married, the year each of my kids were born.

For some people, time pressures them; for others, time motivates them. I'm the last type. When push comes to shove, as they say, I move incredibly fast to accomplish things.

So, I have so much to do, so little time - and that, is a blessing. It really is.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Child's Anger

One of my kids is mad at me.

When they are little, they scream that they hate you, but, of course, you know that they really don't. I think all of my kids have told me they hate me at one point or another. Thankfully, not lately.

Once, one of my daughters told that I was ruining her life after she'd finally found her place. Not so much later, she thanked me again and again for the decisions we made.

I've been accused of favoring one over the others. I've been told I wasn't fair. They've been angry when I didn't let them do something, go somewhere I thought wasn't safe. One daughter caught on quickly enough and tells me when I should say no so that I appear like the mean one while she can commiserate with her friends, who, for the most part, love my cooking and think I'm not so bad.

One of my kids told me that I was a disappointment - that one still hurts. I'm not sure if that wasn't the harshest criticism yet.

One of my kids is mad at me. A child's anger can be sharper than the sharpest sword, cut deeper than any knife known to man. I wonder how many times you can cut a mother's heart, how many times it can bleed without breaking? There's no cure to fix it, no medicine to stop the pain.

We've talked. I've apologized for that which I did wrong; tried to explain what actions I took when put in a no-win situation. Nothing I say is going to change the anger coming my way.

And in the wake of this anger, one of my daughters left me the most amazing letter. She wrote:
I hope this year will be easier and better. I would like to tell you that you are a great Mom and you did a great job with us, the kids. I know that sometimes you think I don't appreciate you and think you are not a good Mom but you are wrong. I love you so much and appreciate you for all of what you do! And remember, you are a perfect Mom and don't think different. You did the best job you could and you succeeded. I love you so much and don't forget that! Have a good, happy, and amazing year!
She left it on my computer and though I've told her, I can't imagine that she'll ever really understand how much I needed to read these words. I think it's cute that she thinks I'm a "perfect" Mom, especially at a time when another things I'm such a bad one.

I read this letter almost every day now, trying to remember that children will hate their parents sometimes even when they are all grown up, but they'll always love them because you really can hate and love something at the same time.

When the anger outweighs the love...what can a mother do?

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