Friday, March 6, 2015

When the Land Sings

I work very hard in this life - at my job, with my family. I rarely have time to myself, time to sit and do what I want for any extended period of time. I dream of suddenly finding myself rich enough to afford the simple pleasure of doing what I Donald Trump would read my blog and, you need to focus on writing, so here's ... I don't know... $100,000 per year.

Hire someone to clean; hire someone to do your grocery shopping and cook for your family and hire someone to make your garden nice and keep it that way. For $110,000 a year, I might even be able to hire someone to change the sheets on my bed every day (I love the feeling of new sheets...)

And with that...I'd spend my life balanced between pouring out the words that flow inside my head, with spending time with my family and friends. So, assuming that's not going to happen and I'm going to have to spend the next 10 plus years as I've spent the last 20 (at least)...working too many hours, cleaning too much, cooking too much...what I will tell you is that while I can't steal all the days and hours of my life away...I do steal days, here and there.

Last Thursday, our 9th annual conference was was fun and I think it went really well. New venue - fun and friends and old ones...and a guest from America - his first time in Israel. And so I stole hours before the conference and days after to take him around.

I can't stand the idea of someone coming to Israel and not seeing the land. I want them to know its beauty, its history and to see it not as the media projects, but as God has blessed.

So...we went; we saw...and we took are some...

As I traveled around Israel - in Jerusalem, Hebron, to the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley, Emek Ella - where David fought Goliath and so many other places...I could hear the land singing...and in my heart, I sang too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Obama's Temper Tantrum

This pretty much sums up Obama's behavior in the last few weeks. A few important facts:

1. Obama was informed before it was announced that Netanyahu would speak to Congress...he chose to act like it was thrust upon him.

2. Kerry has threatened Israel, demanding that Netanyahu not announce the details of the agreement - while at the same time saying Israel didn't know the details (go figure that one out).

3. Kerry just happened to be unavailable to meet with Netanyahu.

4. Many of those few Democrats who chose to not attend the joint session where Netanyahu spoke have been blatantly anti-Israel in the past.

5. Netanyahu hit the proverbial home run during his speech. Accusations by Pelosi and others said, Netanyahu's speech was anything but ungrateful or insulting to the United States.

So, aside from hoping someone will create a cartoon to who how absolutely childish Pelosi behaved, here's a great one about Obama.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Words that Bibi Needed to Say

Thousands of years ago, an evil man from Persia rose up and promised to destroy the Jews. Esther, a young Jewish woman, and her wise uncle Mordechai saved the day and the Jews of Shushan and beyond. The evil man and his plan were revealed. The king ordered the evil man to die; decreed that the Jews not be murdered.

The timing, the analogy...all that went with Benjamin Netanyahu today as he made his way to the podium of a joint session of the United States Congress just a short time ago.
We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
-- Netanyahu speaking to the Congress
What Esther had to do...that was his task today - to reveal the evil plan of the evil men from today's Persia. To get the king (perhaps Obama, perhaps the Congress, perhaps the Western world as a whole), to recognize the threat and do what it can to stop it.

I was so touched that Netanyahu went to the Kotel, the Western Wall,
Saturday night before leaving for the United States. It is the last remnant from the times of our Holy Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.

There at the Western Wall, every day, through the day and through the night Jews go to pray. Just the day before I was there - along with tens of thousands of others.

As Netanyahu spoke to the Congress, at the very moment he was speaking, Jews were standing at the Wall praying. When Bibi went on Saturday night, it wasn't about politics. It was about his going before God, there in the holiest of places to seek a blessing, the wisdom needed to make this speech, this trip, a success.

The weight of history was on his shoulders as he stood there listening to the applause moments before he said his first words. Before he left Israel, he told the world that he was going to speak for all Jews. And whether the Jews of America or Europe accept that, is not really the point; ultimately, if the tides turn and waves of anti-Semitism again come crashing down on Jewish communities, they will feel the violence first.

Already that is happening - in Paris and London, Berlin and Amsterdam. In Miami and Chicago. And with the danger, this time, every Jew in each of those cities knows there is Israel.

It always amazes me how focused the world is on little Israel and by contrast, how much little Israel does to influence the world. All that we develop, all the innovation that we share with the world - the basics of modern communication, of computer technology, medicines that save lives every day and amazing rescue teams that travel across seas to help others...that need to help others, to be in the forefront of change, that is what stood behind Netanyahu a few hours ago in front of the Congress and the world.

And behind Netanyahu was Israel - it was in the interest of every Israeli for him to succeed, for him to shine, for him to convince the world that the Amaleks and Hamans of the world are reborn in each generation and today, they can be found in many places where Jews are threatened. In supermarkets in Paris, in the streets of Amsterdam and Berlin. In each place, the threat that is Iran is crawling towards the Jewish communities.

Behind Netanyahu stood more than six million Jews whose lives were cut short but whose voices and souls still cry out. Elie Wiesel sat above Netanyahu as a representative of those victims of hatred. For all those, Netanyahu traveled to Washington. For them, he accepted an invitation to speak to the world.

And more. Behind Netanyahu there was Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sarah, Rivka, Leah and Rachel. They too listened. They were there as reminders that this land has been ours for thousands of years - long before a single Christian or Muslim walked the earth, our people lived in our homeland and worshiped one God.

That's who stood behind Netanyahu today.

And, in front of him were men and women who needed to hear and understand that the threat we face is the same one that waits to attack them. When they burn our flag, the flag of America is the next one thrown to the fire.

After they blow up buses and malls in Jerusalem, they collapse buildings in New York and Washington, subways in London, and trains in Madrid. In front of Netanyahu was all of America - no, not the America of Barack Obama, but the America that stands for freedom from tyranny, the proud United States that bows to no one.

Bibi went there to tell them the truth that we have experienced first hand. We are a people thousands of years old. We know that when despots threaten to annihilate a people, they will do all in their power to accomplish it, to deliver death and pain to those they hate.

I wanted Netanyahu to tell them that what starts in Israel, goes out to the world - the light that came from being the people of one God, the Holy Book from the Holy Land. We gave the world the foundations of civilization as it is known today in the West - the value of life.

He did all that, and so much more because his final words were the ones we all needed to hear - the ones who stood behind him and the ones who stood before him. In his final words, was the greatest message of all.
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel. You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Randomly Offensive Opinions

BJ sent the following comment...I decided I wanted to answer it and so I put it here. She (I don't actually know if she is a she or a he, but it feels like a she, so I'll go with that)...wrote:

I have been reading your blog for years and have been quiet about some of your more offensive opinions.
Well, thanks for reading my blog for years...and honestly, you don't have to be quiet. If something is offensive to you, knock yourself out...tell me. And hey, don't limit yourself only to my "more offensive opinions" - love to hear them all...
You are constantly harping on President Barack....dare I use his middle name.... You sound like an American Tea Party representative, ignorant beyond belief, uneducated and truly offensive.
Hey, don't hold off on using his middle name on my account. As for what I sound like - I'd rather you label me a concerned Jew, an Israeli. Someone who cares about the future of my country and people and someone whose sons have and, God help them (and me), are likely to put their lives on the line in the future. I personally don't think that anything I say is uneducated - Columbia University degree and all that....and as for truly offensive, I'd probably want to turn that around and wonder where you are in your life that makes my criticizing Obama's behavior offensive. If anything, I'd think Obama's behavior is what is offensive.
Although in not a long speech, but a speech, never the less, YOU pounce on a SINGLE word in the entire speech. 
His specific comment was "a random bunch of folks in a deli" - so to be fair and accurate, I pretty much am against the entire phrase. Random - not by a long shot. "A bunch of folks" - he makes it sound like they were gathering for a picnic - they were attacked and four were murdered. And, for the record, it wasn't a deli, it was a supermarket; a place they came to shop not have a good meal out with friends.

Out of how many Kosher groceries, synagogues or Jewish owned businesses in Paris, why was this place chosen as a place to commit these horrible acts? Do you know? Of course, you do not. Definitely chosen because it was Jewish, but why in all the targets in Paris and its surrounding area was this particular place chosen? Proximity, ease of escaping after the crime--Who knows? It was random. 

Now this is seriously offensive and sort of creative at the same time. You really should consider joining the State Department or the White House - even they didn't think of this absurd definition for random. Wow, seriously? So it was random because the terrorist just happened to pick THAT Jewish store as opposed to another Jewish one? Oh my about uneducated!
What is not random is the absolute departure of over 200 years of protocol, being invited by the Office of the President, or the US State Department in order to attempt to influence both countries elections.
Two hundred years of protocol? You have any proof of that statement? You think the US President has been inviting foreign leaders for 200 years? So, like the US President would invite the King of France, who would leave his country for like what two months, to sail across the Atlantic, speak to Congress and then sail back? Had you claimed maybe 70-80 years, you might at least have been credible...200 years? That number sounds pretty random to me.

And so, you want to tell me that Congress has never invited anyone to speak before a combined meeting of the Congressional leaders?

And think that Netanyahu is trying to influence "both countries elections?" - Impressive. He might be trying to influence Israel's elections by acting like a strong leader, one concerned with the safety of his country. Gotta give you a point on that one. But how exactly is he influencing US elections? By making Obama look like a child having a temper tantrum?
That is Not RANDOM. That is a politician (not a statesman)deliberatly out for political gain without exercising good judgement about his actions.
Well, I'll give you that - Netanyahu is not randomly going to Washington. He was invited to speak, to present Israel's knowledge of Iran as compared to Obama. Politician? Okay, have to agree there - pretty much all the parties involved are politians - Obama, the Republicans, the Democrats, Netanyahu, etc.

Political gain? That remains to be seen and still Netanyahu has flown to America because the message he brings is that important. He is explaining a threat to our lives...that sounds like very good judgment to me.

Obama's True Friends

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jerusalem Mayor Battles Terrorist...Video!

As we were meeting people about our upcoming conference, we heard the news - a young Jewish man was stabbed close to the Old City. The terrorist, an even younger man bent on murder had been apprehended. In between conversations about what we wanted, who we expected to attend, etc., we kept going back to the news.

They were saying the mayor of Jerusalem was there, that he helped apprehend the terrorist. Two people at the meeting smiled, "they mean his security," one said.

Watch the video below - it was taken from security cameras covering the area. The terrorist appears, circled. You'll see him advance and then what looks like two or three men approach him - one is wearing a white shirt - he is the mayor of the city of Jerusalem and he most definitely was involved in the "take-down."

You can see as the mayor and his security guards work to neutralize the terrorist; you'll see, at the same time, another man in white helping someone across the street. The man who is lowered to the ground was lightly wounded and evacuated to the hospital.

This mayor has done much to promote Jerusalem - there are two significant things worth noting here. The first is that with his body, with his life, he moved in bravely to protect. And the second is that at any point, his security forces could have simply shot the 18-year-old terrorist. They chose to try to take him alive, and they did.

The mayor speaks about what happened (in English):

And I'll add one more comment - if I was his wife, I'd tell him how brave I thought he was - even if the terrorist had thrown down his knife, they had no real proof he didn't have another weapon - and after telling him how proud I was...I'd slap him across the face and scream out, "WHAT PART OF BODYGUARD DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND????"

So, to his wife - try to go easy on him...he did real good today!

A 19 Year Old's Vote

For the first time, David will vote in national elections. Our home is a political one (shocker there, right?) and we often discuss politics. We are, relative to most Israelis, on the political right. It isn't that we are against compromise; it isn't that we are intransigent or love war.

I have three more reasons, five, and six and seven or eight, actually, to be more anti-war than most of the world. My sons' lives have been and, God watch over them and protect them please, likely could or will be on the front line in the future. But we have never understood the idiotic concept of compromising alone, of giving when no one else does, of acting unilaterally when we well know that our action will be misinterpreted.

All the stupid things our governments have given up with no results, no peace partner, nothing. My city suffers, not from Palestinian actions but from our own government - we don't have enough housing for our young; what there is, is priced very high - it's a seller's market here with houses and apartments sold very quickly - other than the few that are priced out of greed, waiting for someone stupid enough to meet the exorbitant prices being asked.

All this and more, David has heard growing up. In his 19 years here in this country and in this world, he's learned the horror of terrorism, of war. Even before his bar mitzvah, that moment in Jewish tradition when a boy crosses the threshold to have the responsibilities of a man, he was worrying and praying for a brother in the midst of battle.

And now, less than a year before he is drafted into the army of Israel, he will step forward to vote. As much as all citizens feel the results of their government's actions, a young man in the army or going into the army knows that it is his life and those of his friends that is on the line. When the politicians say we must defend ourselves, that we have the right to protect our people - it is the soldier that steps forward.

Davidi is listening to the news, thinking about who he will vote for. He hasn't asked and I haven't said - he knows already what I am thinking. We have to ensure the Benjamin Netanyahu is the next prime minister because the option of Herzog and Livni is the surest recipe for disaster.

There is talk that Meretz might disappear after this election - one can only hope.

Yair Lapid is about to get a well-deserved slap in the face; a clear message that his talk was only talk, his message a farce. He failed and though he will likely get in, half those that came along with him most likely won't. Step one to showing him that politics is a hard and serious business that does not support fools easily.

Bayit HaYehudi with Bennett as a leader is a promise of freshness and strength and it's easy to see how he may well be tomorrow's prime minister, but we all know it won't be in this election.

"They all attack each other," says David. "Only Bayit HaYehudi and Alei Yarok [the green party pushing for the legalization of marijuana] says what THEY will do." Welcome to politics, my son.

He doesn't yet know completely who he will vote for - it's a safe guess that like me, his choices are between Bennett and Bibi. I have little faith in Likud but I understand that Bibi needs enough votes to get a sure ticket to hold his seat, not enough to think he can abandon the right and play as he did in the last elections.

It is interesting to see this election through his eyes, as he debates who to support. But more, I wish I could speak to the politicians, just once, to tell them that as has happened to me two times before, this election is critical because my son's future rides on the decisions they make.

I look back at the "predictions" I made two years ago and find them sadly accurate. I predicted that Netanyahu had formed a coalition that could not be sustained, that we were likely to end up in another war. Here we are, just two years and one war later, going for elections again.

I'm almost afraid to predict and yet I believe with certainty that if the Herzog/Livni team is given power, they will broadcast a message of weakness that will quickly encourage the Arabs to attack. I don't know what coalition Netanyahu would go for and yet he is, at this moment, the only viable option we have.

The message that Bayit HaYehudi offers is one of strength and yet this was not the message they gave throughout the last two years of the coalition. They joined with Lapid, and I find that hard to forgive. Time is running down on this election - only weeks to go.

I've voted enough to know that even after you give a party your vote, there is no guarantee they will honor the platform and the message they proclaim proudly before the elections. Time and time again, the Likud has shown there is no honor, no guarantee. Then again, Livni easily outshines Netanyahu when it comes to lies and a lack of honor and, if possible, Herzog even beats her.

Davidi has not yet experienced the terrible betrayal of knowing that with the vote you give a politician, they can turn and do the opposite. The one great truth in politics is that what they say now to get our vote means little even the day after the election. It is a depressing fact that Davidi and his older siblings have learned or will learn in the years to come.

For me, at this moment, I feel more concern than at most times. Elie and Shmulik have finished the army, are older and wiser and mostly safe. They may do reserve duty that will again take them into danger, but I have grown to trust their maturity and honor the men they have become in so many ways. They have wives to live for, children here or yet to come, God willing.

For now, I fear for David in ways that bring my heart to panic. We've begun to talk of units - the idea of ground forces terrifies me; I don't want him in tanks...I will argue each unit away because unlike what our enemies would portray about us, the real truth is that if I could lock him in a room and not send him to the army at all, I might do that.

This election is just another step he takes...away from the little boy who sat on the ground and picked blueberries just yesterday. It was yesterday, wasn't it?


Friday, February 20, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu Coming to Maale Adumim.... a closed, invitation only event limited to approximately 100 maybe 150 people - priority to Likud members, naturally.

I'm not a Likud member. They stole my vote under Sharon to force a one-sided plan that resulted in thousands of rockets and years of trauma and devastation to approximately 9,000 Israelis - in many ways, the finest of our land. While we were bitter; they looked for ways to rebuild. While we were paralyzed in anger and pain; they sought to heal themselves...and us.

So as a Likud member, they took my vote and betrayed it. The promise-never-to-evacuate became a destruction order. My vote was betrayed again...and I got smart. I took it back so that whatever is done, is not on my ticket, not in my name. As a voter, sometimes that is all you can do.

So I left - or tried to. They kept taking my money, ignoring my requests but finally, finally, I managed to get free. I am no longer a Likud member...or, what I really believe, is that I am a Likud member - but a Likud member of a party that betrayed its roots. It isn't so much that I left the Likud, as the Likud itself left.

I begged my Likud friends to leave the Likud - to vote one last time with their feet when the party list was manipulated to ignore the primary election results. Many left; many continued to spout the same line - only  from within can you change things. That may be true, but ultimately, if the core is rotten, the fruit isn't worth saving.

The Likud of my youth, the party of Menachem Begin, is gone. Even...even Feiglin has left and yet there are those who remain for purposes I have yet to understand.

So Bibi is coming to my city to an event that is not opened to the public. INVITATION-ONLY, the announcement reads...and I'm pretty sure I won't be getting an invitation. But I have a right to a voice - sometimes, that is all that we have.

And so, even though they won't be answered, I'll still ask my questions:

1. You've promised over and over again that you'll build on E1 and each time capitulated to foreign pressure and while that's happening, Arabs have built? When are you really going to build and if you aren't, why can't you say that?

2. You reject the idea of a building freeze and yet you have not given Maale Adumim any significant (or any) building permits in many years. Are you trying to stifle the city even from natural growth?

3. We in Maale Adumim have been victims of many robberies in recent months. Why isn't there a complete security fence surrounding our city?

4. In the last elections, the Likud chose to go with Yair Lapid's party and others who were decidedly not right-wing. This put tremendous pressure on your government to abandon many of the core tenets of the right wing. What lessons do you think the Likud should have learned from the last elections?

So, in this mythical opportunity I've created for myself...what other questions should Bibi be asked when he comes to his invitation-only, limited courtesy call to the largest city in Judea and Samaria?

Dancing in the Snow...

It's after midnight here in Israel. I've just finished preparing the challah dough for Shabbat. I'll leave it to rise overnight and then in the morning I'll shape it and bake it. I made a lot this week, more than normal. Partly because we are sharing it with friends and partly because I have a feeling in the morning there will be people unable to get challah because of the storm.

Israel is being hit with a powerful winter storm - in the area where I live, it never snows...and yet, we had a few flakes and my husband returned with my car covered with snow simply because he was in a neighborhood that is slightly higher.

Jerusalem is already a white wonderland; south of Jerusalem in the hills of Hebron, the snow is amassing quickly. About to go to sleep, I went to check the news and saw a link to the live feed broadcast around the clock and around the world of the any given time, pretty much 24 hours a day, you'll find people there.

And as the camera went live, I could see and hear what is happening there now. The camera has flakes of snow that interfere with the view and still it is all so clear - this is our holy place - the Western Wall, the last remaining wall, a retaining wall of the outer Temple Mount walls...

What I heard was men singing...what I saw was man dancing. Can you imagine? It's FREEZING out there - literally! It's snowing...but really...and they are dancing!

I can't imagine that these men have any idea they are on camera. They simply feel the joy of the snow, of it being Thursday night and knowing the Sabbath is coming.

There is the joy of living in this land and being close enough to go to this holy place...any time!

And, it is the beginning of the month of Adar - a joyous month filled with laughter, singing,!

This thing that they did tonight, this dance I was so lucky to catch - it is what I've been writing about. For all that you think we live in fear, we don't. For all you think terror lurks behind each tree, it doesn't. We sing and we the snow!

I was given a glimpse...and then the snow began to cover the camera lens, and the men dispersed to go home just as others arrived to say their evening prayers. This will continue through the night, through the snow, through the days and nights and months and years. 
“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”

        ― William W. Purkey
Heaven on earth...yes, that's where I live...

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