Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Life In Israel" Blog's Great Post

I found this post on the Life in Israel blog and couldn't resist reposting it here (hope you don't mind, Rafi). It is just too perfect:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

simply doesn't exist. Here is yet another brilliant video recently released that explains what Israel transfers to Gaza - DAILY...and how it compares to what Gaza needs...and how completely useless the flotilla's really are - note this new flotilla is reported to be carrying even less than the last one!



On a daily basis, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ensures the transfer of nearly 6,000 tons of goods into the Gaza Strip. 

Despite the commotion caused by the provocation-seeking 2010 Gaza flotilla, the ships carried only 4,000 tons of goods (mostly expired medical equipment)–two-thirds of the daily amount that Israel transfers into the Gaza Strip.

A Classic - We Con the World!

If you haven't seen this yet (or even in a while) - worth watching! Over 2 million have! As always, thanks to LATMA for their brilliance!

Listen to WHY Israel WILL Stop the Flotilla

For once - so smart - for all to understand.

Spoken in Arabic with Hebrew and English subtitles. You can't get more clear than this message from the IDF to those on the flotilla and around the world!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

@Farah961, the Flotilla, and the Palestinian Lie

Let me introduce you to today's anti-Semite. Farah Abou Kharroub, also known as @Farah961 on Twitter, and I were discussing the Middle East. She started off right away by showing her ignorance:

No, @Farah961. I will not fall for your lies. The truth is too well documented.

The flotilla is definitely not for humanitarian reasons. Just over a month ago, the Red Cross confirmed what Israel has known all along - there is NO humanitarian crisis in Gaza - their words...and ours. In 2009, 2010 and before and after, the United Nations has confirmed there is no crisis. Israel sends in truckloads of aid; the Egyptians and the Israelis have promised to deliver any and all aid to Gaza - this is NOT about humanitarian assistance. The next part of what you wrote is even more wrong. It shows either your ignorance, or your intention to betray the truth. Israel most definitely does NOT stop "all the food from entering Gaza."

Repeated photos, videos and more all show weekly deliveries and again, there's the Red Cross' statement of confirmation. But @Farah961 is not done. She has more to add:


Yes, @Farah961 - the people in Gaza do need help - mostly, however, they need saving from their corrupt leaders who squander billions of dollars in foreign aid to build themselves fancy malls and mansions and pools. And, they need help from their ignorant religious leaders who want them to chase death and martyrdom. 

As to the children needing comfort - perhaps that would be better than what most of their parents currently give or allow them to be given - brainwashing and indoctrination into the culture of death that plagues Gaza and Palestinian society. And no, @Farah961, we are not the purveyors of terror in the Middle East and the world, that would be your people. 

It was Palestinians who broke into the home of the Fogel family in Itamar and murdered, in cold blood, a father, a mother, a 10 year old, a 3 year old, and...oh God - a 3 month old baby girl. The cruelty of that murder haunts us and always will while little Hadas' murderer has only the regret that he didn't manage to kill her other two small brothers. No, we are not the terrorists, not the ones who plant bombs on buses and launch 14,000 rockets at cities without direction, discretion.

@Farah961 is like many on Twitter and other social media networks. She wants to tell you her side but is not open to listening to facts. She doesn't recognize the murder of a baby as terrorism if that baby is Jewish; she doesn't recognize any facts that don't serve her agenda. But she is frustrated that we argue with her, angered that we don't fall for her lies. 

She hates Israel...she wants you to know and the more you answer her, the angrier she gets. Until that terrible moment when the truth slips out. It really isn't Israel she hates. It really isn't Israelis. It isn't that she is anti-Israel or anti-Zionist. No...here is the truth - the real truth of why she and her people fight so hard, use terror and rockets and do not hesitate to spill the blood of their hated foes, even when that foe is a little baby girl barely old enough to have given her first smiles.


"Hitler made a mistake" this horrible woman writes. And what was this mistake? "He died before killing all of you." But Hitler didn't kill Israelis, did he @Farah961? Had Israel existed when Hitler came to power, it would have flown in to save our people. We came 50 years too late, one Israeli general once apologized to the graves of Poland. Jews died in World War II because we had not yet re-established our home in our ancient homeland. Israel was re-born in 1948 and so Jews were massacred in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945.

This battle that began in 1948 is fought by Israel. And yet, as Farah Abou Kharroub shows us, it is really the same war we have fought for thousands of years. The hatred of @Farah961 is the hatred of her people and interestingly enough, just as she betrayed herself in that last post, she also betrays herself in her bio on Twitter:

She is proud to tell you that she is "Palestinian till death!"

Funny, when I think of my people and my family and my country, I think of life, not death. I would write something like "Jewish forever" or "Israeli forever" - death will not part me from my beliefs, my country, my  identity. But @Farah961 of Beirut, Lebanon is typical of her culture - she worships death and apparently Hitler as well. Thus she is Palestinian till death and Hitler her ideal.

So @Farah961, let me tell you one more thing from someone you hate to the core of your being. No, we will not leave Israel, not now, not ever. Israel has been ours throughout the centuries, millennia before the world ever heard of a single "Palestinian." We will not get out of OUR land. Once, 63 years ago, we offered to share it with you so that there would be peace. Your people stupidly turned to war and lost.

You did it again and again while your Arab brothers kept you in refugee camps and nurtured your hatred until you believed you are entitled to our land, all of it, not just what the UN might have given you. We have been ready to make peace for 63 years. We have waited while your people launched wars, terror attacks, rockets and mortars at us.

Now, you speak of Hitler and wish he had completed his plan for the Jews. So let me tell you the future, the truth, as I see it. It is, if you must know, rooted in the past.

Your words betray the truth - you are no better than the enemies our people have faced throughout time - Amalek, the ancient Egyptians, Haman, the ancient Romans, the Crusaders and the Cossacks, those who came to our towns and brought pogroms, the Nazis and you. All those before you have faded from time while the Jew and his land remain. You too will fade as they did, a victim not of us, but of your own hatred.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hey Jews - a Message about the Latest Flotilla

Lyrics Below:



HEY JEWS (parody lyrics based on the song Hey Jude by Lennon & McCartney)

Hey Jews we're setting sail
Bound for that big jail that's known as Gaza
"Flotilla" was once a word no one knew
Here comes number two, we're back to Gaza

Hey Jews, don't be afraid
You know your blockade can't last forever
The Egyptians tried too, but let down their guard
Deterrence is hard, surrender's better

And if we hide Iranian bombs, hey Jews come on!
We're all just humanitarian sailors
With ammo belts and bars of steel
Hey Jews, get real!
Code Pink buys the same at Lord and Taylor

Hey Jews, don't lose your cool
The revolution is all around you
From the Golan to Sinai's lines in the sand
We'll cross over land 'till we surround you

No matter what we smuggle in, hey Jews, give in
We're riding the wave of world opinion
'Cause don't you know when we attack and you fight back
It tightens the noose we hold your head in

Hey, Jews, can't you excuse 10,000 rockets on civilians
You've spent all that dough on reinforced rooms
The whole world presumes you want to use them.

Five Years for Gilad

Today is the fifth anniversary of Gilad's captivity. Anniversary is such a funny word - it usually means a celebration, but there is none today. You count up anniversaries, feeling blessed with each new one - here there are no blessings, no great wishes for more to come.

Five years...and my list gets longer and longer. What have you done in the last five years of your life?

In the last five years, we have:

  • Bought a house.
  • Sold a house.
  • Moved our offices.
  • Bought a car.
  • Sold a car.
  • Bought another car.
  • My daughter got married.
  • My daughter moved to two different apartments.
  • My daughter had a baby.
  • I became a grandmother.
  • My oldest son went into the army.
  • My oldest son finished the army.
  • My second son went into the army.
  • My second son got married.
  • My second son is about to leave the army in a few weeks.
  • My third son celebrated his bar mitzvah.
  • My third son grew taller than me.
  • My youngest entered first grade...and second...and third...and fourth...and fifth.
  • I expanded my business to include new courses.
  • I've trained hundreds of students in technical writing, marketing communications, social media and more.
  • My husband and I went on vacation; celebrating our years together.
  • We got new phones - three times.
  • I got a new laptop - and need another one now.
  • I got a new refrigerator.
  • I got a new oven.
  • I got two new microwaves.
  • We got new mattresses.
  • My daughter got a new bunk bed.
  • Two of our dogs died.
  • We got a puppy.
  • We got a new bird.
  • Our fish all died and we didn't get new ones.
  • I stopped drinking diet coke.
  • I still love chocolate.
  • We got new couches.
And so much more - what have you done in the last five years? The answer for Gilad's family is wait...wait and pray that he will come home.

The second flotilla against Israel set sail today - what a cruel irony that they chose this day of all days to sail. The naval blockade against Gaza is yet another result of Gilad's imprisonment. I call on the flotilla participants to demand Gilad's freedom - loudly and clearly. 

If they get to Gaza (they won't from the Israeli side), I hope they will ask for Gilad to be released and bring him home.

Of course, if all they really wanted was to get to Gaza, all they'd have to do was go to Egypt and enter Gaza from that side - but that never was their goal. The UN has repeatedly confirmed there is no humanitarian crisis. Israel (and now Egypt) are sending in supplies - no, this was never about humanitarian issues - not last time, and not now.

What it SHOULD be about, is Gilad. Five years is an abomination. Gilad must be free. This should have been a flotilla to free Gilad - instead, it is yet another flotilla of hatred, of shame, of support for Hamas and terror.

Shame on Alice Walker who dares to suggest that because she once married a Jew (who she divorced and now bashes as often as she can), she can't be accused of anti-Semitism. Of course, she can. She sails a flotilla of hatred - just see the Tweeter posts that surround her.

Shame on those who are too naive to realize that they do not sail for humanitarian rights for Gaza - they sail FOR Hamas...and against Israel and Gilad. THAT was the truth of the flotilla, and is the truth of the flotilla - then, now, and always.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Uncle Thing

As amazing as it is to become a grandmother, it is almost as amazing watching your daughter become a mother, your sons become uncles, and you baby become an aunt. This was supposed to be our Shabbat away with friends in Haifa. The kids (meaning the unmarried ones) were going to be home; my daughter, son-in-law and baby were to go to other friends.

It was agreed that I would make Shabbat for the kids before leaving - dairy Shabbat no less because after weeks and weeks of meat meals, the lighter Shabbat is always a joy. I made fish cutlets, two kinds of quiches, onion soup, and lasagna. I'm not sure what else I made, but somewhere along the way, my daughter called. She was concerned about the baby - it's largely being a new mother and needing reassurance that all is going well.

The baby is doing beautifully - my daughter is, as most new mothers are, exhausted. Her husband is in the army and comes home exhausted...and still manages to help so much. They are both as tired as new parents can be. She told me she didn't think she could go away and then in a voice bordering on tears, asked me to stay home too. I canceled with our friends in the north, so grateful that they understood. I cooked a few more things and we picked up my daughter early to spend part of the day with us.

She fed the baby and then went to sleep for almost 3 hours while we took the little one. One of the most amazing things is watching my 15-year-old relate to the baby. He can't wait to hold him. He sings to him, cradles him, rocks him, calms him. The baby has fast become the center of attention when he is here. I watched Shmulik walk in the door and the first thing he did was find the baby with his eyes.

It is an amazing thing to become a grandmother - but it is equally amazing watching the transformation that happens to the entire family. Friday night, I had them all surrounding the table - noise and food and action.

When my daughter asked me to stay - I had a very philosophical reaction. I have always believed that somehow, some way, things will happen according to a greater plan. I don't know why we didn't go to Haifa this Shabbat, but I do know that we had a nice family Shabbat, time with our new grandson, and time to watch our children be parents, uncles and aunts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ima, I Found a Bullet in My Room

We don't spend enough time in our lives being grateful for the blessings that are ours. Sometimes, I begin to list them in my head, but stop, afraid that I might forget something or someone. Sometimes, I stop because I'm afraid to remind God how much He has given me, that He might think it is more than I deserve. When was the last time you just stopped in the middle of your day to make that list?

If you do it right, I think, it is a very personalized and personal list, so I won't write mine here - at least not all of it. But this morning, as I spoke to my youngest daughter, trying to move her along the amazing journey she takes each day getting ready for school, I listened to her chatter about the bat mitzvah party she went to yesterday, the choice she had between the party and going to the neighbors to play with their two small sons, as she loves to do.

She spoke of her new nephew and asked if I had a chance to hold him yesterday and told me about what she wants to buy her best friend for her birthday (in months and months from now). Suddenly, in the middle of one sentence, she started another, "Ima, I found a bullet in my room."

"No problem," I told her calmly, "put it on my bed and I'll give it to Elie or Shmulik later."

I chose not to react to the strangeness of the comment she made because I realized immediately that it wasn't a strange occurrence. Her room was once Elie's and she inherited his wardrobe closet. Too bulky to move, Aliza now uses Elie's four-door standing closet; Elie now has Shmulik's old room and closet, and Shmulik got another one for himself when he married.

Elie moved in a hurry; left some of his army "stuff" in the top of the closet and apparently...a bullet somewhere.

It really was a simple part of a conversation, which continued with her asking if she could go visit her sister and nephew after school. "Call Amira," I told her, "and then let me know." We discussed whether her sister, a new mother, would be sleeping still and when was a good time to call. Off to school for another day - all normal. All well. All...quite strange, if you think about it.

I went to my office and remembered those words, "I found a bullet in my room." That can't be considered normal by most people, can it? Have you ever found a bullet in your bedroom? I can't honestly say whether I'd even ever seen a bullet until I came to Israel, at least not up close.

And finally, to add to the weirdness of the day, Israel ran a nationwide exercise today. We simulated a massive attack on our country, hundreds of dead. Sirens wailed across the entire country at 11:00 a.m. for those at work and school. The goal was to get all school children to safety within 2 minutes - the time it would take a missile to strike many areas. The goal was for everyone to identify what they would do in a real emergency and understand how long it would take to get to safety.

Citizens were told to remain in these sheltered places for 10 minutes, but few did. It was enough for many to point and say, "I'd go there." Residents were told that if there were a real emergency, a second siren would sound. What a concept - it isn't enough that we are running this exercise to simulate an attack on all of Israel, now we have to not only imagine if it were real, we have to be warned what to do if it is.

So the first siren sounded. And then, a malfunction in, of all places - Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod - a second siren did sound and people thought it was real, as they were supposed to, and were terrified, as no one intended them to be.

I warned Aliza this morning. I wasn't sure if the school would warn them that it was an exercise or not and I didn't want to take a chance. She's had enough fright for a while; she doesn't need more. She is still sleeping with her windows closed, even in the hot summer. Friday nights are the worst for her. She still sleeps with a nightlight - she is afraid of the complete darkness. She still doesn't want to be alone in the house - being alone is scary too.

Nothing has happened in our neighborhood, and yet she remains afraid. She found a bullet in her room today - that, she took in style with a laugh and wonder.

Meanwhile, Elie was back in the Reserves today; Shmulik back on base. Chaim flew to America to be with his family for the summer and Yaakov has been blessed with another baby girl!

Life, it seems, is often as normal as you accept it to be. So, if you want to be more happy than sad, more filled with wonder than anger, you accept the sirens - even the mistaken one, you buy your daughter a nightlight when she needs it, close the windows when she insists. You laugh about a bullet and, at the best of times, you smile in wonder at the many joys that God brings your way.

Mazel tov to Yaakov and Shoshana and their new little one; to Chaim on his new niece; to their mother, who is like a sister in a distant land.

And to the many teams all over Israel who worked hard today to simulate the unthinkable - thank you for your dedication, your caring, your service. We all felt safer today, knowing you were training.

And to Elie out somewhere in the desert tonight - stay safe and wear earplugs!

And to Shmulik - stay safe and yeah, you can borrow the car tonight. I love you all! We don't spend enough time in our lives being grateful for the blessings that are ours, but I'm trying!

Maturity

Maturity comes when you think not just of what you said, but how others took it. I thought of that last night after a discussion with Elie. We were talking. He's frustrated. He needs something and I have no idea where it is. It was next to my desk before we moved about two years ago. I was busy packing the upstairs areas and then unpacking them in the new house while others packed up the office area. His paperwork must be lost somewhere in dozens of boxes that we've stored in our basement area, blocked in by our Passover dishes, old clothes and other things, his father's tools, equipment, parts of a ping pong table, and more.

He said something that in some way sounded like he blamed me. I tried to defend myself, feeling bad that he was blaming me; unsure what I could do differently now. Yes, it would have been better if I could have avoided this situation, but had no idea it would come to this and now that it has, I can't go backwards and fix the problem retroactively. I can't physically start digging through all these things to find it.

Elie heard something in my voice and stopped and apologized. He said it was his fault, not mine (it couldn't have been, it wasn't his fault). He said that it was not something he blamed me for and more - he realized that his words sounded as if he was placing the blame on me when he really didn't mean that. "I know how it sounded, like I was blaming you. But I'm not. I'm sorry."

He asked me to work with him to solve the problem and find the missing item. And after I hung up the phone I sat at my desk amazed, yet again, at this man that has come from the boy. What amazing sensitivity it took to listen not only to his words but to the tone he was using, to recognize how I might have felt, and more, to apologize.

Another sign of manhood, of a child grown, of a son who has worked to move the relationship with his parent to a new level.

Choco Update

Amazingly enough - it's been more than 2.5 years since I wrote a post about getting an African Grey Parrot named Choco. We got Choco while Elie was on base and I couldn't wait to hear what he would say to the latest addition to the family.

Choco turned out to be a bit of a surprise to us and to the people who sold him to us. They gave us a really good price, partially because while Choco made some noise, he was largely quiet while on display in the pet store and I think the owners were happy to get rid of him in hopes of getting a bird that would attract more people.

If only they knew...

Within a short while, Choco proved that he'd been holding back. He makes more sounds than I can count - some of them at noise levels above what I want to admit. He talks - a lot. He has whole conversations in mumbled tones to himself when you cover his cage. And every once in a while, he yells out, "Shut up, Choco, shut up" in Hebrew.

Elie has had conversations with Choco - Choco will make some horrible noise. Elie will tell him "Shut up, Choco, shut up" in Hebrew. To which, Choco will yell out, "Shut up." And then Elie will laugh...and then Choco will make the same hysterical laughing sounds.

If you are familiar with Jeff Dunham and "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" (see the video below...it's really funny), Achmed often says, "Silence, I kill you." When Choco starts making a lot of noise, Elie is now teaching him to say, "Silence, I kill you."

(Warning: A bit politically incorrect and risqué near the end.)


(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwOL4rB-go)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Year and A Few Months...

...separate me from the utter and sheer panic I would have at reading this news report:
An Arab rushed a group of IDF soldiers at the Tzufim checkpoint near Kalkilya and attempted to stab one of the soldiers. The Arab was shouting anti-Jewish slogans and curses as he attacked. The soldier called for the Arab to stop, and when he refused, shot the Arab, injuring him moderately.
That was, for many months, Elie's checkpoint, Elie's base. I can't count how many times I drove there - to bring him home, to drop him off, to bring Elie and his soldiers brownies and cakes. Once it was Elie who shouted in the air for an Arab to stop; Elie's soldier who fired in the air when the Arab continued, and Elie who loaded his gun and aimed it at the Arab as he came closer and closer.

On that day, the Arab slammed on the brake second before Elie would have fired. The Arab stopped, realizing that he would never make it through, and Elie's life was not changed for ever. I didn't get a call telling me he'd used his gun and thankfully didn't get a call that he was hurt. Instead, he came home as was expected and only in conversations later did he tell me of what had almost happened.

No, that Arab did not scream "Allahu Akhbar" and on that day, the soldiers didn't have to shoot anyone. His intention was to get through the checkpoint, not murder a soldier and so the driver was searched and released.

A year and a few months and still my eyes fill with tears of pain and anger. Pain because there is another soldier's mother who got the call that her son was lightly injured. What does that mean - lightly injured? Was he cut? How badly? Where? Will he be left with a scar? Did he need stitches? Even now, a few hours later, is he back on base, in the hospital, at home? And there are other mothers thanking God that the Arab didn't succeed in stabbing their sons. Anger because it never seems to end. Anger because our soldiers are commanded to show restraint against murder attempts and so the Arab is shot in the legs after trying to stab a soldier in the chest.

Anger because human rights organizations will add to the tally of the wounded this wanna-be murderer. And after the anger comes the gratitude because I might instead now be dealing with the sorrow of having the Arab succeed.

The attacker is in moderate condition - lucky that he chose to attack the Israeli army and not Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans. There is no question the Israeli soldiers could have as easily aimed for his chest as for his legs. Protocol and adherence to our own standards of warfare enabled that Arab to be taken to an Israeli hospital. He will be nursed back to health and then put on trial for attempted murder. His name will be added to the list of those Hamas wants returned to them.

Whatever the future holds, today the soldiers acted properly - and with restraint. Today, in addition to my feeling grateful, there is an Arab mother somewhere who should fall down on the ground with gratitude - not to the Arab culture that sent her son to murder, but he Jewish culture that required our sons to shoot at his legs and not his heart.

As for me...a year and a few months...not nearly long enough for the panic and sadness to fade easily away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stolen Moments, Lives, Sunshine, Carpets

Wow  - that has to be a unique title. In the history of mankind, I have to win points for that one. Too tired after only 4.5 hours of sleep (or less) to make more coherent comments, but I feel like writing before I start my day. I'm giving myself 9 minutes of writing - let's see if I get through all four.

Stolen Moments - I'm stealing a few now and I stole a few more this morning. Elie's on his way south - hopefully even most of the way by now. He dropped me off a while ago and I wanted to save him those few extra minutes driving into the hi-tech park in Jerusalem where our offices are located. He dropped me at the top of the hill and I began to walk down. The sun is shining but not too hot. I have a Vitamin D deficiency - a major accomplishment in a land filled with sunshine, but there you go. I'm taking pills (when I remember) and I didn't yesterday, today...never mind. The best way is the sun, and the bench looked so inviting. I sat down and closed my eyes for a few minutes. Sunglasses are wonderful! I wish I could remember to do this every day or at least sometimes. The world feels so much better when you take those few minutes. Amazingly enough, like most things in life, apparently, you have to train yourself to steal moments. And so, after only a few, I was already thinking about the proposal for documentation services I was supposed to send out last evening and the meeting later today and the funeral. And so, after less time than I had hoped, my mind was telling my body to move. Steal moments - they are more precious for having stolen them. You can plan time off, and you should. You can plan time in the sun, and you must. But those stolen moments are sometimes more precious than everything because it is in those moments when you stop the world and change from "I need" to "I deserve."

Lives - Well, this is a hard one. I'm going to a funeral today. A funeral of a young man that I'm not sure if I ever met. He lived close by; I'm friendly with his parents. They are wonderful people - kind, gentle, just good people. His mother always smiles and takes a moment to greet me. Recently when I was in the synagogue with my daughter and my new grandson, she came over to see, to give me that moment to feel like the luckiest person in the world. Her son died. He drowned off the coast of Israel. One person said he died a hero, saving the life of a child. I don't know the details. I know only the tremendous sense of loss and the feeling of panic that I get when I am reminded how quickly life can change.

Sunshine - I guess I covered this in the first one. I am blessed to live in a land of sunshine. I'm going to try to remember this more often.

Carpets - Oh well, I didn't think I'd get through everything so I'll try to remember to write about carpets later. For  now...

May God bless the memory of Yonatan ben Aryeh Leib.

May God send comfort to his mother. And his father. And all his family.

May God send comfort to his many friends, those who knew him and cared so much about him - and those of us who didn't really know him and now are saddened to have missed this shining light.

And may we all remember to steal moments when we can, to sit in the sun, and carpets...well, next time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home Again

Elie's back home tonight after a long day first in the army and then in a course he is taking. The army let him leave at 2:30 p.m. - in the middle of the training. His commanding officer told Elie not to mention anything, "we'll tell them slowly," he said.

The instructor wasn't happy but one of the experts said he'd work with Elie, if necessary. Elie drove back for his lesson. His teacher in Jerusalem wasn't thrilled that he got there late but when she saw him in uniform, she understood. He left a few minutes early, too tired to concentrate.

He's home now, making himself something to eat and getting ready for tomorrow. He liked the people he met - including a few from his army days. He's home safe, tired and well. Tomorrow he goes down again.

Meanwhile, Shmulik is enjoying a day off tomorrow so he can put in some hours as a security job and earn extra money. My daughter is home with her husband and amazingly gorgeous little baby. Davidi is home from school; raiding the refrigerator. Aliza is asleep in her bed.

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself earlier today. Sometimes, when you feel down, God sends you a deeper understanding of how lucky and blessed you are. I got that today as I drove home and listened to Elie talking; as I heard my three boys talking about which sleeping bag Elie should take with him; when my little girl rushed down the steps to give me a kiss and hug before she went to sleep, and as my older daughter called me and told me about her son.

Back in Uniform

Elie went off today to his modified miluim (Reserves Duty). Modified because the army needed him for this upcoming training and Elie couldn't miss three weeks of a course he is taking, which finished just days before a huge test. The army has the legal right to force Elie to miss the course...and spend the next year of his life twiddling his thumbs until the next time the test comes around.

It was strange to see Elie back in uniform. It fits him so well, this green uniform with the cellular phone attached to the belt. The uniform was a new one he got a few months before leaving the army - which he did not wear. At first, I thought it was perhaps the dress uniforms until I realized it was simply new - like this experience.

Elie is driving my car down to the base - far from here. Far from the realities of our everyday life. Back in uniform - only for a short time and yet it fits him, his life, his style. A new phase, a new uniform. I'm not really nervous - for the next few days anyway, Elie won't even be shooting (I think). A new concept I have learned since Elie left the army - it is all "I think."

Elie laughs now, "sure, I was on base."

But you told me you were there, I would say to him.He didn't want to lie, but I pushed him into a corner asking him if he was on base and going to sleep in the late evening that we had a conversation. Most of those calls he made to me. It makes me wonder why he called me if he was going out on an operation and how many mothers had conversations like that and then were asked, when was the last time you spoke to him.

I am so grateful that there has never been a "last time" and I pray with all that I am that there never will be. What I think is that this is a walk in the park, an easy few days out in the desert with men who will become friends. What I think is that there is a whole new world, but one infinitely familiar to Elie.

No, this is nothing like the first time he went off into the unknown. I didn't know, that first day, when I would speak to him - though it was only hours later. I didn't know where they would take him - now I know where the base is, where he will park the car he is taking.

The first time, I felt that in some way, I was entering this new world with him. Now, I have the peace in my heart to let him go, to watch him go, and know that the army has the same interest that I do - to see my son in, to see my son do, to see my son leave and come back home safely.

Today, two of my sons wear the uniform of the State of Israel. There is such pride in that. No, I do not want war. I do not want my sons to fight. I do not worship death nor do I wish to occupy anyone. I want peace more than anyone on earth - at this moment and all moments. How do I know - because at this moment, I have two sons wearing the uniform of Israel and because I love my sons.

It really is as simple as that. I'll put aside the question of border and settlements, of terror and martyrdom. I'll put aside the question of politics and diplomacy. It really all comes down to this simple reality. My sons wear the uniform because of the reality of what we live with here. One can argue our right to this land - but that would be dumb. Seriously dumb.

We have the oldest and most well publicized land deed in the history of mankind. In how many places does the Bible promise this land to the Jews? Today, as Elie drives south, he passes near or through Jerusalem - mentioned in the Bible, and Hebron, where Abraham bought land for the burial plots of the patriarchs, and Beersheva, and so many other places.

As often happens, I've gotten a bit off the starting point - I guess the start and finish here is really simple - Elie is back in uniform...temporarily...but there none the less.

Monday, June 13, 2011

You Look Just Like Him...

So here's a funny thing. My husband and I both have dark hair, dark eyes. When we were presented with a blue-eyed baby with blond highlights we were, to say the least, quite surprised. At one point, when Elie was quite young, I even thought of having him tested to confirm he was really ours. Shmulik looks like us, and like his older sister. It just made no sense that we would have created a child with blue eyes.

I know all about recessive genes. Okay, not all about them, but enough to know that one descendant four generations back on one side, and another descendant five generations back on the other side, means we're talking about a really unlikely chance. I gave up on that idea when I realized that if the awful truth was that Elie wasn't ours, someone would take him from us and even the return of a "natural" son wouldn't compensate not having Elie in our lives.

Somewhere deep inside, there remained this thought, this fear, that somehow the hospital had made a mistake. When I was expecting our fourth child, I showed the children an ultrasound image of the sibling they would have. "Who does he look like?" one of them asked.

The thought that went through my mind was that my first and third children look alike so Elie should have a turn. Without a second thought, I said, "like Elie." When Davidi was born, he had those same blue eyes and blond highlights and he actually looks quite a bit like Elie. The shape of their faces, even the type of hair, is similar. I have always thought that Davidi was given to us as God's way of saying, "you are an idiot, of course Elie is yours!"

I went to a conference today and a woman approached. "You look just like you son, like Elie," she said to me.

Isn't that wonderful? I loved it from the minute I heard it. No, I don't see it. I don't see that Elie and Shmulik look alike, and the woman agreed but I have had people tell me that it is obvious they are brothers. One soldier saw Shmulik and immediately identified him as Elie's brother. "How do you know?" I asked her.

"They look alike," she answered.

"No, they don't," I responded back, "they really don't."

"Sure they do, except for their coloring."

Well, I still don't see it, but it's kind of nice that others do!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Throwing Stones...

This is a video taken at the Western Wall, known at the Kotel. The Kotel is the last remaining wall, the retaining wall of the area know as the Temple Mount. Jews have been praying here for all of the last 2,000 years...except during the 19 years in which the Jordanians ruled the Old City. For that period, Jews were denied access to this place, this holy site.

The Arabs have attempted to deny us our history. They say the only significance of this site is that Mohammed put his donkey there. They say the Jews have no historical connection to the Temple Mount. They say that it was Ishmael and not Isaac who was nearly sacrificed on the rock around which they built their mosque. They say...and in their words are the lies of hatred and denial.

The Kotel is an amazing place. It touches your soul, pulls out of it all your hopes and dreams. You stand there and you need, simply need to touch it. And when you do, words flow from your heart. Please God, please watch over my children. Keep them safe. Please God, please heal the wounded of Israel. Please send comfort to those who have lost. Please watch over the orphans. Please guard our sons as they guard us. Please God, please.

Almost 24 hours a day, Jews go to the Kotel to pray. You can watch this amazing reality at www.thekotel.org. Many months ago, a family from America wrote to tell me that their son was going to have a ceremony at the Kotel - his swearing in ceremony as a new recruit in the Paratroopers. The mother was flying in from the US to be with her son, but they had decided that the young man's father would stay at home. He was sad to miss his son's ceremony, but accepted that it was a decision they had made.

I wrote to them and told them about this site and soon the mother wrote to me and told me that her husband was so excited that he would be able to watch the ceremony that he just kept staring at the computer screen, watching the Western Wall, as people came, prayed and left.

In the 1800s, Arabs were throwing garbage down on the Jews from above. The wall is the retaining wall because the land is so much higher on the other side, where once our Holy Temple stood. A wealthy European Jew named Moses Montefiore donated money to add smaller stones to raise the level of the wall and protect the Jewish worshipers from the Arabs above.

The final level - a single row of lighter, smaller stones, was placed by the army to create a flat area upon which, if necessary, soldiers could quickly move.

This past Friday, as many Jews came to the Western Wall - Arabs from above began pelting them with rocks. The Western Wall is, as I mentioned, the last remaining wall of the Temple - the retaining wall of the outer perimeter. In fact, it is a story in itself. The bottom walls date back to the First Temple; the second level, a bit smaller, are from the Second Temple.

Here is a video - captured by the cameras that so enthralled a lone soldier's father and brought him the happy knowledge that he would not miss his son's ceremony. Here is a video - of Arabs in 2011 pelting Jewish worshipers. You can't see the stones, but you can certainly hear and see the reaction as people run for cover.

Here is the video:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Phases of Army Life in Israel

My heart is not in my throat. That is an accomplishment. I can't help but wonder if that is because I now know the army so well...or because I haven't got a clue what is coming around the bend of the roller-coaster.

This should be the quiet ride, right? It's nothing, really. So let me explain. Elie starts his first stint in the Reserves on Sunday. It's a training run so he's not on any front and there's nothing really to worry about. I'll keep saying that to myself until I believe it. Even if there would be a war, I often say to myself, even then, they would take the standing army guys, not Elie's group.

During one discussion with Elie recently, he said something like, "in the next war"...and I thought how amazing it was that he was thinking of that.

"Do you really think you'll be in the next war?" I asked him.

His answer was logical, that of a soldier. It will depend on how long the war lasts. If it goes over a certain period of time, they'll have to call in the Reserves. Call in the Reserves - that could mean Elie.

Next week, he'll be on a base learning; the week after, he'll be in the field shooting. The loud cannons that fire far into the mountains - this time, again, the booms will be his...this time, he'll be back with a new group of soldiers. These are the men he will accompany through the next 15+ years or so of his life, until he reaches the age of 40 (or so, depending on what the army decides in the years that come) and is discharged from the army.

What amazes me is that this same group will meet up each year and share life's phases. Now they are single, or perhaps a few are married...next year, or the year after, or the year after that, more of them will be married and then most and then hopefully all. After that, they will begin showing off pictures of their children and talk of how doing Reserve duty gives them a chance to catch up on their sleep. Their sons and daughters will start to talk and walk and then enter school around the same time. Their sons will reach the age of bar mitzvah while they meet up each year and though 40 may be pushing it, one or two might even have a child married during this time. Lives will develop and be lived - shared each year for a few weeks at a time and maybe an occasional get-together here and there. A barbecue, a family event. This is the way it is in Israel - their "miluim" (Reserve Duty) buddies.

In a very small way, it reminds me of a movie I saw years ago with Alan Alda - "Same Time Next Year," I think it was called. Only there, Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn were having an affair, betraying their families once a year to come together. It was a lovely movie built around a nasty concept. There was nothing right about it - a betrayal of family, of vows. There was nothing holy or honorable. I tried seeing it for the message Hollywood was trying to send, a cute idea, a gimmick, a catchy concept, but never got beyond that sense that despite the lovely relationship they were building, it was wrong. Just wrong. They followed each other through their lives - births of children, school, etc. and with each phase, I felt how wrong it was.

But to follow this to the army connection, the point was that they entered and exited each others lives that one weekend only, quickly catching up on all that had happened. They knew each others lives only through the one's eyes and laughed and showed pictures and then promised to see each other again the following year.

Elie will go off - perhaps not the same time each year, but likely with the same group of guys. That really is where the analogy ends because in his case, the cause will be noble, honorable, just. He goes not to betray but to serve and the relationships he builds starting next week will be deep bonds of friendship between brothers.

I knew this day was coming more than a year ago when he left the army. It's another phase in the life he has here as a soldier and I have as a soldier's mother. Looking back to the weeks and days before he started in the army, I think "controlled panic" might best describe my feelings in those long-ago days. Perhaps "controlled terror" might work too.

I thought when Shmulik would go in the army, I'd have this army thing under control and yet, in some ways his going in was even harder than with Elie. It frightens me that I'm not frightened here; it concerns me that I'm not concerned. Isn't that silly?

Looking back, I always had two great fears - the first is one that all mothers have every minute of their lives, that the unspeakable will happen, the words I cannot write, cannot think and certainly cannot let enter my heart or mind. The second was about how the army would treat my sons. It is the army way to build the man out of the boy, even when it means breaking the boy at first. But the man is built already and the army has more than a fair share of the credit in his reality. My fears were largely unfounded; the development so much a blessing.

So I'm back to the simplest of fears that all mothers have - no, they aren't simple. That's a silly word, but they are normal. Now it becomes the will of God and we are all at His mercy always. For those who think it is dangerous to live in Israel, we here laugh a bit because we feel so safe. Crime is very low compared to most countries and you have a much greater chance of being injured in a traffic accident (and I think even a plane crash if I remember the statistics correctly) than being involved in a terror attack. The bottom line for families of soldiers (but families of children too, if you think about it) is that God gives us these precious lives and we spend the rest of our lives giving thanks and praying for their safety.

I guess Sunday is a day that had to come and now that it is almost here, I'll do what I did for all the other days of Elie's service, of Shmulik's service (and yes, of Yaakov and Chaim's service too). I'll get through it.

In a comment that I haven't yet had time to answer, someone questioned my saying that this is where I always wanted Elie to be, doing what I always wanted him to do. She wrote, "THIS is what you wanted him to be - a soldier?"

No, I didn't want them to be soldiers; I didn't want Elie to go to war, to learn to shoot massive artillery weapons. No. I wanted him to live in a land that was his; to serve a nation that he believed in. I would rather live in a country that I'm willing to fight for - and hope that I don't have to fight, than live in a country in which I simply exist. I grew up in a town and a community that often spoke of escaping the draft, of not fighting for the United States. Canada, Mexico, Europe - they would go anywhere rather than fight.

I had one friend who went into the US Marines...the rest would have run if there was a draft. What right do you have to live in a country and only take from it? That isn't what I wanted for my sons (or my daughters). And so my children give to this land, they serve it and it enriches them as people, as citizens, as members of the community.

Sunday, Elie starts a new phase in his life. From Elie's Induction Day post:
There is no ceremony, no great moment, just a gentle slide into a new world. He went in his direction without hesitation; I reluctantly went in mine and I tried all day not to think of where he was. Or, more importantly, I tried not to think of where he wasn't. From the time my children were born, almost without exception, I have known where they are. Perhaps not to an exact location, but close enough to know that they are within reach, within a short drive or call away. Now enters a time when more often than not, I won't know where he is, what he is doing. I will have to trust that no news is good news, that he is ok...

I'll take it one day at a time...for the next three years. Today is over. He's safe. He's fine. Tomorrow is another day...

My son is a soldier in the army of Israel. Why that makes me want to cry, I can't explain when it is something that I have accepted, something in which I feel pride. For now, the fear and worry that threatens to push the pride aside will be my personal battle in the next day and week and year. My son is where I have always wanted him to be, doing what he must do. It is something that Jews have been unable to do for thousands of years - to defend their land and their right to live here. My son is a soldier in the army of Israel.
If you have a minute, join me back at the beginning of this journey - Induction Day for Elie, 2007.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Try Talking to Idiots

"The insinuation that I don't agree with Israels [sic] existence... you don't wánt to understand me, you just want to put me down."

No, really, Mr. Man from Holland, I really spent hours today trying to talk to you. But that was dumb, wasn't it? You say you don't hate Israel. Some might think progress had been made, no?

No...not even that. Quickly came the response: "I hate the Israel govt and the way in which Israel misbehaves towards its neigbours and own people."

Somewhere in the discussion that followed, I made the mistake of mentioning little 3-month-old baby, Hadass Fogel, who was murdered by Palestinians. Palestinians who were tracked immediately from the scene and hunted in the days that followed. Palestinians who slit her throat and left her there with the brothers and parents who they had murdered already. What did Mr. Holland have to say about that?

"A gruesome act. But most probably carried out by an immigrant worker, not by Palestinians," writes the man from Holland. That was one of the initial lies spread by MAAN News, the Palestinians "news" source (thanks to Reuters for teaching me when to use quotes properly).

And in that reference, I realized I had reached the end of any conversation I could have with this man. We were no longer talking about an ignorant man. This is, rather, a man of hatred and blindness and worse. The barbarity of this act crosses all lines of humanity. It shook a nation that is no stranger to bloodshed. Itamar was more than Israelis could handle. It was a crime that broke us as a nation and it was the bravery of Tamar Fogel and the decency of the Fogel family and others that helped rebuild us. No. To deny the enormity of what was done; to suggest it was a crime of money is abhorrent. My mind can take no more.

I told him, this stupid, stupid man from Holland, that the murderers confessed. He called me a nasty name and told me to do research. (For what????? They confessed, you stupid man.) He sent me to a site called ... well, never mind, I don't want to drive traffic there. But the blog post there suggests who "really" killed the Fogel family?

And then proceeds to make assumptions to prove the lie. "There is absolutely no excuse for murder of any sort." - Well, thanks for that, I thought to myself. And here it comes...

"The callous, inhumane slaughter of two parents and three children, one of whom was a mere 3 months old, is unconscionable." Yes, absolutely. There can be no forgiveness, no explanation, no justification - unless...unless you are so twisted, so vile, so...

"This applies even when we raise the question of the illegality of Israeli settlements." Even then, huh? Well, thank heavens for that. "Unconscionable but..." - a new definition.

But let's go on and finish this atrocity before my stomach really turns...

"With no evidence left on the scene, eyebrows were raised in a curious case of ‘who dunnit?’" - Really, no evidence? On the contrary, the stupid murderers all but left a path right back to their village. A blind man could have followed it. Well trained intelligence officers had it easy.

The stupid blogger, cited by the idiot man from Holland, continues, "The obvious line which Israeli officials seems to have taken - Palestinians. Though, this would seem extremely odd in context. Since the very inception of Israel, settlers have been forcing the native Palestinian population out of their land. Why would Palestinians, if it was in fact them, choose to act now?"

Choose to act now? Huh? The Palestinians have been "acting" all along. We have a long line of murdered innocents, dating all the way back to the creation of Israel to show the barbarity of the act. Not least of which - Samir Kuntar - who murdered a young child in a terrorist attack known for its brutality. What of Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran, who were murdered by a Palestinian shepherd/terrorist?

And then the author truly takes a flight of fancy, wondering for us, who might have done such a terrible deed. Creative writing takes on a new definition here:

"So, if not the Palestinians then who else? Well, perhaps a fellow Israeli? Perhaps an internal dispute had broken out and the murder was act of retribution? Well who else then?....A Thai worker? Sounds far-fetched, no? Well last night it emerged that a disillusioned worker had confronted the Fogel family regarding his fees. According to QudsNet, the Thai worker had not been paid and vowed to “kill the family.”

The most obvious of answers...is often the truest as well. No, there was no Thai family, no foreign workers on the settlement. The Fogel family didn't cheat anyone; didn't owe any Thai worker money. The truth is that two monsters - one name Hakim Awad and the other Amjed Awad murdered this family. As suspected all along, they came from the Palestinian village of Awarta. They came, they murdered, they were caught, they confessed.

That the stupid, stupid man from Holland can hint at a different conclusion confirms beyond all reason why, at the end of the day, you shouldn't try talking to idiots.

Nothing else, mind you - just that. Idiots. Idiots. Idiots.

The Blindness of Hatred

I've been having a discussion all day long with a man who lives in Holland. He is convinced that Israel is wrong. It actually doesn't matter about what. Israel was wrong to defend its borders last week. Of course, he doesn't call it defending its borders, he calls it attacking innocents. Israel was wrong in 1948, in 1956, in 1967, in 1973. In each war in which we were attacked, we were wrong. Always and forever, condemned by the man in Holland - for living. That really is the bottom line. If Israel exists, it is wrong.

I could have saved so much time today had I just ignored him. I should have. But every once in a while, we need this reminder of the darkness that prevails in the hearts and minds of too many.

The man from Holland is persistent - I'll give him that. He sends me a video of a Jerusalem Day celebration. Arabs and leftists took to the streets screaming against Israel and waving the Palestinian flag. What did the Israelis do? Our young men? No, they didn't throw firebombs and they didn't throw rocks. They didn't charge borders and cut fences. They sang and danced.

Yeah, they yelled too and some of what they yelled wasn't politically correct. The man from Holland sent post after post condemning Israel. I asked him about why he doesn't condemn Syria. After all, 19 Palestinians/Syrians died during clashes with the Israeli army while 120 Syrians died at the hands of their own government. The man fumbled at bit - told me I should count his posts. I did - zero.

"Any other nation would have had HUNDREDS dead - and again - WHERE are you tweets about SYRIAN BRUTALITY?" I wrote to him.

He responded by telling me that he posts in Dutch and English. I did a little Google translate of "Syria" and "Syrian" in Dutch and again searched his post (for both English and Dutch) - still zero.

I condemned him for his silence. He asked if I was hinting at the silence of Europe during the Holocaust. "I feel you want to put me on one line with all the people who were silent during the holocaust." The analogy works, I responded and so he accused me of pulling the "moral card."

When I point out that the protesters were actually mercenaries paid by the Syrian government (5 times the average monthly wage for showing up for one day of protests), his response was, "Whether they were paid is irrelevant. As are the motivations of the Syrian govt. They were unarmed, that is what matters."

When I point out that they were throwing rocks and firebombs, he excuses those as well. "Rocks against soldiers?"

Then he jumps to "if you have some time to spare, perhaps this story by an American/Israeli might be interesting" and cites a link to an American Jew who lived in Israel for a few years back in 1953 and the man from Holland uses this as proof that Israel is performing ethnic cleansing. I'm not sure where, but that's the claim.

He has decided on international borders, this man from Holland, and nothing, not fact, not international law will dissuade him. We moved to a discussion of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Palestinians. He says Fatah wants peace. After I finished laughing a bit, I told him that he might want to listen to what they say in Arabic.

He told me to prove that what they said in Arabic was different than what was said in English. I did - citing this article by Khaled Abu Toameh
Israel's Partners for Peace: What They Say in English vs. What They Say in Arabic.

He ignored that one. People wrote to me on the side, "Don't know if u realize it but is a vicious antisemite and an enemy of Israel" Yeah, I was getting that feeling pretty fast.

There is blindness in hatred that will not listen to words and logic. The facts are there in the pictures. Did those protests on the Syrian border even resemble the colorful flag waving, dancing and singing of the Jerusalem Day celebrations? I actually didn't see Syrians standing arm in arm, singing, waving flags - not even while cursing Israel and the army.

What I saw was violence. Attempts to break through a border, throwing rocks and ignoring the warning shouts of the soldiers. What I saw was, in effect, the work of those paid to cause trouble - incited by the equivalent of five months pay ($1,000 - average Syrian salary is $200 per month).

And what I saw today from the man from Holland was a commitment to blindness. A hatred of Israel so strong it blinds him to the wrongs all over the world. All that matters is what Israel is doing. It is this blindness that allows the UN to condemn Israel easily for the deaths of 19 (10 of which apparently walked into a minefield and then get killed when another protester (or one of them) threw a firebomb that landed in the minefield and exploded.

Al Jazeera confirms the story of one young Palestinian who was shot in the waist. He says he was shot as he tried to cut the border fence. The Israeli soldiers that were shooting where snipers. If they had aimed to kill, many more would have died.

Point after point was made today - and the man from Holland returned to stories from 1953, ignored quotes on international law and continued, again and again, to blame Israel.

"Did you notice that up to now, you haven't called me antisemite yet? I however feel that you are urged to."

He's right, I am. Deep below the surface of many who hate Israel - perhaps even most, there is the ugliness that seems to be eternal. Yes, man from Holland, the blindness of hatred didn't begin in 1948 or 1967. It began in the darkest of ages and lives on in the hearts and minds of those who are not interested in international law and the legalities of the aggressor state.

Those posts that are ignored say it all. The goal is to hate, to condemn. In blindness, in anger, in stupidity, in darkness.

I'm so glad I live in a land of sunshine and light. May God bless the soldiers of Israel who fought with honor and restraint, who sleep whole and well tonight and each night because they know what they have done and what they need to do.

God bless the IDF, our most precious sons and daughters who defend our land.

To the Last Spoon

The holiday of Shavuot commemorates the day when the Jewish people stood before God and accepted the Torah and more, all that it represented. It is a personal favorite of mine for so many customs, for the ease of the day, for it being only one day in Israel. One thing we do - we eat dairy products rather than the heavier meat meals that are so traditional on other holidays.

Shavuot is about the moment we became a people. There we stood at Mt. Sinai, and there, for all eternity, we were changed. Jews possess a collective sense of each other that I do not find in other nations, religions, people. We identify with each other automatically based on this one bond. A Jew from Israel will fly across the world, and we have so many times, to help save the life (or even just find the body) of a Jew.

We go to help so many others, but as we do, there is a quiet unit that works quickly to find the local community of Jews and make sure they are okay, that they have what they need. It was this was in Indonesia - when Israelis worked to find the body of a Jew from England known to have died in the tsunami there. It was that way in Turkey when we went to dig through the rubble of a horrible earthquake. And one unit went to where it knew there were Israelis and dug until our soldiers pulled the bodies of several, and a young Israeli girl who was still alive. All that we do, springs from this holiday - Shavuot.

I went all out food-wise - salmon and fried fish, blintzes, quiches, dairy lasagna, cheese cake. Part of the fun of it all is tasting before the holiday starts. It's a game - try to save it for the holiday; try to taste it before.

The finished dishes came out of the oven to cool on the table as the oven was refilled. Elie grabbed a huge serving spoon and called out, "It's an Elie spoon" and went lunging for the lasagna. Shmulik lives in the apartment below our house and is now married and so apparently more dignified. He came upstairs and asked if he could take some food, watching on the side as Elie and Aliza were wrestling for the last spoon of the noodle salad I had already put away (I left a few extra spoons in the bowl and thus Elie's shout of "the last spoon" was heard as I loaded a platter for the new couple. When I got to the onion quiche, one of Elie's favorites, Elie called out, "mine, mine."

And then Aliza got into it. She quietly took a spoon and went to taste. Elie grabbed her arm from behind and the two of them went giggling around. "The last spoon," Elie cried out again.

"The last spoon," Aliza answered in challenge. Shmulik smiled - he got more than both as he walked out of the house in triumph.

It was a great holiday - quiet, peaceful, the best.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Soldier

It's funny how you have sons who are soldiers and yet you don't think of them as "THE" soldier. For me, "THE" soldier is one of Elie's commanding officers who is or will likely be a career officer. His sense of leadership is amazing. The way he took care of his troops in Gaza was amazing. His personal history is amazing.

I know that he served in Lebanon and it had a profound impact on him. I know that he saw Gaza as a chance to right the wrongs of Lebanon - to prove that Israel's army could fight and win a war, and do it properly. His eyes have seen so much more than I would ever want my sons' eyes to see.

And through it all, as Elie often tells me, there is humor and life. Elie was blessed with three incredible commanding officers. The first was Or, who simply led Elie through the early phases of the army. The other two I never met and yet I will forever think of the contributions they made to Elie's personality, beliefs, strengths.

I wrote the story of K. and the coffee here, of K. on the PaintBall field after the Gaza War here. Both are funny stories that show you the man, the officer, and a bit about the Israeli army (please take the time to read them - you'll get a smile for sure).

Here's another one Elie told me about yesterday. When they were stationed on the Syrian border during a particularly tense period. K. told Elie, "If you see one Syrian on the border, call me. If you see two, wake me up."

Elie wrote to him yesterday as Israel's borders again came under attack and hundreds of Syrians descended on the border. The fact that Syria paid them $1,000 each (the equivalent of 5 months average salary) and $10,000 to families of those who were shot and killed is an appalling fact. But for now, I'll stick to Elie and his comment. He wrote to K. "I see 500 on the border, should I wake you up?"

Even though Elie's out of the army, the connection remains. K. answered him, "Meet me in the Command vehicle. Yalla, let's go."

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Little Bit of This...A Little Bit of That

Thoughts have been piling up - memories I wanted to write about. On Thursday, Shmulik and Elie and I went shopping. Shmulik took a shopping cart - there to buy things for him and his wife. Elie and I went off buying what we needed. It was cute to watch my son buy for his little family. So many things came in bigger sizes than he needed. He wanted one of something; they sold it cheaper in sets of four. A bunch of times, I told him I'd buy the four pack or whatever and he could take the one he needed.

We met up at the meat counter. Elie began explaining to Shmulik that it was so much cheaper to buy a whole chicken and cut it, than to have the store cut it for you. We bought three whole chickens; Shmulik bought one whole chicken and some new, very sharp knives.

We came home and as I put the groceries away, Shmulik and Elie set themselves up. Elie was the leader - teaching Shmulik how to cut a whole chicken into 8 pieces. Elie has been my meat cutter for many, many months. He's fast and efficient. This time, he was slow and patient. He must have watched how they do it in the store because it was completely different from the way I do it.

The separated the chickens into two pieces, divided the dark meat. And then...well, this is where I say Shmulik is fine and it really wasn't that deep a cut. Elie long ago stopped using the glass cutting board because he saw the meat slipped too easily. Shmulik is newly married, with very nice, new pots, pans, knives, and a really pretty glass cutting board.

Elie warned him to be careful; Shmulik followed Elie's lead, and gave himself a really nice (sarcasm, here) cut. We ended up going to the local emergency room (Terem for those who know the Israeli health system).

So, the first part of my memory, is watching my two boys working together. The second was the amazing way Shmulik was treated. First, his friend's mother was the nurse on duty. She treated Shmulik like a son, like a "VIP" as she called him. They bathed the wound and bandaged it. Happily, it didn't need stitches or gluing.

"I can't give you gimelim," the doctor told Shmulik. Gimelim are sick days off from the army that are bad enough you get to go home. But there was just something wonderful in how they treated Shmulik there, as a soldier, as a son.

That was the first of many twists and turns that day - from happy, to worried, to fine. Days later, the bandages have been removed. He'll probably have a scar, "another one," Shmulik said, not at all disturbed by the prospect.

The next day, we celebrated Elie's birthday with the whole family. L. (our adopted daughter #2) came, made amazing challah [sweet bread] and a really nice birthday cake. My husband's cousin's daughter (did you follow that one?) spent her last Shabbat in Israel before returning to the States for college.

It's hard to imagine someone leaving Israel. I know it can't be home to everyone and yet, it is so much my home, so much the home I always wanted and have always been a part of...strange to watch someone fly away. More twists and turns.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Understanding Arabic

For those who are not familiar with the terms "Nakba" and "Naksa" - perhaps this explanation will help you. This is a bit of humor...black humor, perhaps, on a day of sadness and stupidity.

Sadness - because once again, Israelis were forced to open fire; once again, the world may condemn us for defending our land and once again; and stupidity because irresponsible, stupid, stupid parents took their children into a war zone. Reports are coming in that 9-year-olds and 12-year-olds are mixed in with those on the border.

Understanding Arabic
by Jonathan Feldstein (reprinted with permission)


Nakba (Nak’ba\ (n[a^]k ba), n. 1. The world voted (in 1947) to establish two states in the remaining 20 percent of Mandatory Palestine, after unilaterally creating Jordan in 80% of the territory that we claim as our homeland, the Jews accepted it and we amassed troops and fought to slaughter every single one, and to drive the rest into the sea. The Jews kicked our asses as far back as Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, we lost unilaterally, and now we whine and complain that they beat us, trying to undo the damage we did to ourselves, blaming Israel for all our problems, while still not recognizing Israel’s right to exist. 2. Our stupidity.

Naksa (Nak’sa\ (n[a^]k sa), n. 1. We tried to wipe Israel off the map again (in 1967) by massing troops on its border, closing shipping lanes to Israeli vessels, and other acts of war, we got our asses handed to us in the shortest war on record, and now we whine and complain that the Israelis beat us, trying to undo the damage we did to ourselves, blaming Israel for all our problems, while still not recognizing Israel’s right to exist. 2. Our stupidity.

Nakba/Naksa day – 1. Every year we commemorate our stupidity by blaming Israel for all our problems, continuing to be belligerent, continuing not to recognize Israel, and being the one party that refuses to make peace and take responsibility for our actions. 2. Intransigence personified and the sole obstacle to peace.

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why the Arabs Lose...

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. - L. C. Megginson

If Israel were to lose a war, I mean really lose it, we would cease to exist. That is because, despite all the mis-truths and outright lies the Arabs tell, the truth does seep through. The goal of the Arabs, as it has always been, remains the utter and complete eradication of Israel from the map of the world. And so, each war that finds an Israel on the other side, remains our victory.

We may fight it well, as we did in Gaza. We may fight it badly, as we did with the Second Lebanon War. We may fight it with miracles, as we did in 1967 and 1973 and 1948. Actually, as I write that, I think every war here has been one with miracles in it. Always, after that battle, amazing stories come out. Elie told me of one during the Gaza War, in which the paratroopers complained about the heavy artillery diversionary tactics - only to be warned that they were not ours. The paratroopers ran for cover mere seconds before an anti-tank missile plowed through their former location. Other stories came out from a number of soldiers who said that someone had guided them to the needed location - each was convinced the old woman was Rachel, one of our matriarchs. Impossible...and yet...

Today, as I was beginning the weekly preparations for the Sabbath, I remembered that a few short weeks ago, hundreds, perhaps thousands of Syrians descended on the Israeli border. Israel made two mistakes - one of intelligence that failed to warn the army of the significant number; and second in refusing to shoot at the invaders. By not shooting, by not stopping them with significant force when they had crossed on to our land, the army opened the door for what amounts to a repeat performance this coming Sunday, on the anniversary of the start of the Six Day War of 1967.

And in this promised event, I realized the truth of why the Arabs keep losing. The fundamental truth in the Middle East is that those who do not learn, are destined to repeat and repeat past failures. The Arabs are champions of this concept. A partial victory on any front sends them into a tizzy and an immediate attempt to try it again.

The Second Lebanon War was not fought well by Israel. Our intelligence didn't do its job; our government and its leadership was an abysmal failure. More, the army forgot that politics has no place in defense and in yielding to the incompetent government, they cost us precious lives and perhaps almost as bad, our standing. For the first time, the Arabs tasted victory and were in a fever pitch to repeat and perhaps push us further.

And so, a mere two years after the Lebanon fiasco, we were embroiled in another war - the Gaza War, Cast Lead. But this was different because though the Arabs do not learn, Israel does.

All the mistakes of Lebanon were studied, addressed, solved. Gaza ran like a carefully choreographed play. It was brilliant; it was efficient. Though we yielded, again, to the mistaken government and the pressures from an incoming President Obama, we fought well. We, being the army, of course - for every Israeli takes pride and honor in the sons we send to our borders.

We learned in Lebanon - the Arabs did not. Their arrogance led them to a humiliating defeat in Gaza - in no uncertain terms and despite the lies (admitted even) by Richard Goldstone and his misbegotten committee, the truth is that civilians were not targeted and Israel did all it could to prevent innocent deaths in a war that we did not start. When you launch 124 rockets at a country in a single month, that is a declaration of war - plain and simple.

The Arabs declared war on us in December 2008 and we claimed an easy victory in January 2009. The Syrians and others declared war on us on May 14 when they invaded our borders - and amazingly enough, it appears they are stupid enough to believe that we learned nothing.

So, they will, more accurate than the most accurate Swiss watch...they will do it again on Sunday, June 6 - believing that victory will be theirs.I do not know what the army has in store for them - but I do know victory does not come to those too arrogant or too stupid to learn from their mistakes. Israelis are not stupid (though I guess I might have to yield a bit on the arrogant part). A Twitter friend wrote to me that she is flying in to Israel on Monday and is concerned about the planned on Sunday.

It will all be over by then, I wrote to her, and I am confident that it will be. If you are an Arab in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, or Jordan and you are reading this - don't be stupid. Don't approach our border and don't try to cross it. We won't let you. We learn from our mistakes. Fences have been strengthened to prevent infiltration and the army will be alert and ready.

Why do the Arabs lose - because they refuse to take in hand the one and only thing that could give them victory and that would be peace for everyone. The problem, for them, is that they see that victory as their defeat, as their weakness. Only the eradication of Israel will make them feel powerful, feed their egos. They don't want peace because that would mean granting Israel a share in that victory.

Peace will make us all winners and likely, it is the only thing that will. So, until that time comes, when the Arabs are prepared to share in that victory, they will continue to lose. This Sunday, it is likely that they will be stupid enough to march to Israel's borders, stupid enough to assume that if they managed to breach our borders once, they will succeed again.

The Arabs lose because they don't understand that Israel can't afford to lose and therefore, if we make a mistake...when we make one, we learn very quickly.

Brilliant - Klavan on Culture

I can't begin to express how I enjoyed watching this video. Please, take a moment, watch it and smile. It is wonderful, just wonderful -

A new perspective on solving the Middle East "problem":

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jerusalem is in Our Hands...and Will Be...Forever

The real transcript of the capture of the Old City, 1967

The Old City - the Western Wall - is in our hands, forever

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