Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Ghetto Mentality Award for 2013

Years ago, we took our young children on a trip up north. We stayed in a lovely apartment for three nights so we could travel around the Galilee and the Golan Heights and enjoy the coolness of Israel's north during the hottest month of August. The children were sitting on a couch watching a television show, I was in the kitchen throwing together part of a late dinner, and my husband was outside firing up the barbecue when I heard two explosions.

Later I would find out that it was not actually two rockets but one. We were close enough to the firing source to hear the outgoing missile take off and seconds later, hear it explode in the Israeli city of Kiryat Shemona. While thousands of other Israelis decided to cut their vacation short, we chose to stay in the north. We thought we would be teaching our children the wrong lesson if we let our enemies chase us away.

If the army ordered all the residents to move south, we would have gone but the army felt no reason to evacuate and we saw no reason to abandon our plans. When we did get back, someone told us we had been irresponsible, endangering our children. I wrote an article, way back then, about how the ghetto mentality still thrives in the minds of some Jews; how we still are conditioned to fear, to bend, to surrender.

From time to time, I come across someone who embodies the ghetto mentality; someone so ready to bend over and apologize for being what we are and have every right to be. Past recipients of the Annual Ghetto Mentality Award have been Shulamit Aloni, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ehud Olmert. For the most part, I don't award this "honor" to non-Israelis - mostly because I feel that those of us from Israel, at least, should know better. Too, most people don't award an annual award until December or so, lest a more shining example arise. And yet, though it is not even July, I feel safe in awarding this year's Ghetto Mentality Award for 2013.

And so...drum roll please...The Ghetto Mentality Award for 2013, for inspiring and original Ghetto Mentality Thinking goes to Rabbi Yosef Antebi, the beaten Amsterdam rabbi - proudly ignorant member of the apparently mentally-ill Neturei Karta group.

I first wrote about him in Stupidly Blind and Blindly Stupid - but he has outdone himself with his latest thinking/action.

Freshly recuperating from his wounds, the rabbi has decided that he must come forward and set the record straight. No, he is not condemning his attacker - rather, he has decided to adopt the Christian concept of turning the other cheek and offering nice. But more, he has decided that it is important that he must make certain that the Muslim who beat him, kicked him to the ground and spat on him - understands that he beat the wrong Jew. You see, this in finely stupid...rabbi is not, God forbid there should be any understanding...a Zionist. He isn't upset that the Muslim beat a Jew; he's upset that the Muslim beat the WRONG Jew, for the wrong reason!

So, dear Arab attacker, he wants to explain, please, next time you want to beat a Jew, please make sure he's not as anti-Israel as you. You should, Rabbi Antebi wants to explain, confirm he is a Zionist - and then beat the crap out of him.

Yeah - with almost half the year still left, I feel comfortable in awarding this year's Ghetto Mentality Award  for 2013 to Rabbi Yosef Antebi for being the blindest, stupidest, eerrrrrr...I'm out of words.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can you find Israel's Soldiers?

I love this short video - posted to the IDF website and to YouTube...just love it - make sure you have your speakers on...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky took the stage at the Presidents Conference - he took my heart years ago when the Russians told him to walk straight across the bridge to be released and so, just to show he was his own person, he walked in a zig zag pattern.

I have lived much of my life on the sidelines of Sharansky's life. When he was imprisoned in the Soviet Union, I was "second in command" of the local chapter of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.Once I stood beside Avital Sharansky as she attended demonstration after demonstration to get her husband released. All she ever wanted, this quiet woman of grace and modesty - was to live a quiet life with her husband, to have children. I was always worried that by the time they released him, if they ever did, it would be too late.

She had two daughters; she is now a grandmother. She lives the life she wanted and I'm so happy for her. As for Natan Sharansky, he is one of these amazingly smart, funny people. You know, the minute he walks on the stage, that you are going to smile, you are going to laugh. The first thing he did was jump up and down a bit to show that the microphone is way up there, and he, being quite short, was down there. They came and they adjusted the microphone. He began to speak, and I began to type. What follows is my best attempt to type live. There are missing sentences, discrepancies - but hopefully, his voice and humor come through.

Natan Sharansky at the President's Conference - Tomorrow 2013

You know I am not a diplomat. My first association was my childhood memory from the Soviet Union when children were mobilized to front a celebration - but soon found out that it can be a great tool. When I start talking to people about how we are celebrating 90 years of president - people thought, you Google it, we are almost at the top of the world - average life span of 80 years plus in Israel; Russia is 65 years. So if they make aliyah from Russia, the Jewish Agency pays his trip and he gets a bonus of 15 years.

And people look and see Shimon Peres. 75% of Israelis believe that the future of Israel will be better than today; 70% of Americans. If you make aliyah, the Jewish Agency will pay for your trip and you'll change from a pessimist to an optimist.

And Israel is the startup nation - and then you look at the statistics. If you make aliyah from France and the Jewish Agency will pay for your ticket - and your children will have a better future in technology and advancement.Aliyah is on the rise

33% increase from US
50% from Hungary

And so, we really have to continue to celebrate Shimon's birthday/.

Israel has the lowest level of unemployment of any country in the western world.

Clearly increased anti-semitism in the last few years - we are dealing a lot of security of Jews in Latin American, Europe, and Asia. We must continue to watch 20,000 Jews in Turkey, 12,000 in Iran, 10,000 Jews in Venezuela, 2,500 in Morocco, 200 in Yemen.

But if you ask me, where is the biggest problem you are face - I answer, in the United States. 41% of Jews live in the United States and we don't know how many will not be part of our Jewish family tomorrow.

And the biggest Jewish community in the world - 43% in Israel. And we still face the de- legitimization of our state. We know the answer is the strengthening of the bond between the communities.

We need to bring more people to Israel - and Israel to more Jews in the world.

Last point - Tikun Olam - fixing the world - someone once asked him - do you have a Hebrew word for Tikun Olam - we have opened centers in Ethiopia, Mexico, Russia - all to teach about Tikun Olam and the betterment of the local population.


I stopped typing here because my battery went too low. What I can tell you is that Sharansky spoke of the Jewish concept of making the world a better place - tikun olam - and of the many things that Israel does on a regular basis to make that happen.

He's an amazing speaker - if you ever get the chance to hear him...go...

An Amazing Statistic...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sharon Stone - The Evil of Beauty

Wow...where did that title come from?

Okay, let's go with it.

President's Conference - Tomorrow 2013 - Jerusalem

Amazing speakers, amazing accommodations - at Jerusalem's International Convention Center - 5,000 people, 2,900 flew in (or were paid to come in), 450 journalists - wow, what a gathering. I'm honored to have been asked. I feel a bit of a fraud. I'm not a journalist. I mean, I am, a bit - but mostly, I'm a blogger and mostly I'm a writer, and mostly, I'm just an Israeli.

I listen through ears that have heard explosions. I see through eyes that have witnessed the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Speaker after speaker has the nerve to come here and tell us we are strong and therefore we can make sacrifices for peace. Really, I want to ask them - will it be your son, your daughter that is sacrificed? Will you pay to rebuild the homes destroyed by rockets?

I have longed for peace in a way that Sharon Stone and so many of the speakers on the podium cannot imagine. It was never her son on the border; it wasn't her awake in the middle of the night checking the news to see what exploded and correlating that to where her loved ones were.

Welli Dai, CEO of Marvell, talked of the similarities between being a Chinese mother and a Jewish mother.  Robert LoCascio, Founder and CEO of LivePerson spoke of the differences between an Italian mother and a Jewish mother. Sharon Stone speaks of being a mother to three children she has adopted and the irony that God places before us is amazing because it was at that time that Chaim sent me a text message asking me if I was here. Chaim was in the same room, a reminder from God that you can love a child not born to you and a message that for all that I did not like Sharon Stone's preaching, it wasn't fair to call her less of a mother because the children of whom she spoke were not born to her naturally.

So as with too many of the others, Sharon Stone came to tell us that peace rests in our hands. That we have to push and take risks.I find myself more annoyed by her than by most of the speakers. I'm not sure why. Personally, I found her references to "comfort zones" demeaning and condescending. First, because she assumed we live in a comfort zone and second because, having incorrectly decided that is where Israelis live, she urged us to get out of our comfort zone.

In her misguided view of Israel, she thinks peace is something that we can make alone. Peace is something that needs a partner - to put it in terms that Sharon Stone may understand - like dancing, perhaps even like sex. If you want to do it right...well, never mind, you get the idea (if only Sharon Stone would).

Sharon Stone felt it important to tell us that she views herself, at 55, as "hot and sexy." I'm glad for her but what that has to do with Israel, I'm not sure. More importantly, what does a career creating fiction have to do with our lives here? Why does she feel capable of coming here and telling us what we have to risk?

I enjoyed hearing about her life and her work. I like the fact that she is an advocate for peace and women's rights. I guess what bothered me is her assumption that we here in Israel are any less pro-Israel or any less informed.

Trust us, Sharon - if there was a way we could have made peace in the last 65 years, we would have done it. We've tried withdrawing from land - we did that in 1956, we did that for the Egyptians and the Jordanians. We pulled out of Gaza and gave back a piece of Lebanon that the UN even thought we could keep. Trust us, Sharon - the lack of peace is something we feel every day but your concept that we move out of the comfort zone is insulting.

We aren't in the comfort zone - those who ran from six missiles a few days ago feel no comfort when they go to sleep. Those of us who have had sons and daughters serve feel little comfort for the entire time they are in uniform.

There is a part of me that wants to be a bit nasty - I did a bit of google and found that Sharon Stone is involved with a 27-year old man. She's free to live her life as she wishes but as I approach my 30th wedding anniversary with the same man I have known and loved since I was 18 years old, I find the analogy grows more evident.

Sharon Stone has every right to live as she wishes. It is her life - as it is ours. She should live and be well, as the saying goes, and not come here to tell us how to make peace (or how to build a lasting marriage). She has no experience with either - what peace has she built? What marriage has she maintained - what relationship, for that matter?

This is the danger of the President's Conference - speakers come here believing they have the right, by virtue of their fame, to preach. There are few more capable of speaking of the Muslim world than Ayaan Hirsi Ali; there are few more capable of speaking on the economy than Stanley Fischer. Though I disagree with Tony Blair, at least he has had direct experience in the world of politics. Dr. Ruth came to talk of interpersonal relationships but other than showing her love of Israel, she did not attempt to tell us how to live our lives in the political arena - though she did encourage us to hold hands more often (and do some other things that I won't mention here).

Sharon Stone came here to show us she is beautiful - and she is. To show us she is vibrant, alive and still very capable of flirting. She had half the men in love with her and a fair amount hoping that her dress would slip just a bit higher (and lower).

But the evil of beauty is that it can be abused. Sharon Stone is a very intelligent woman. Perhaps she is qualified to speak on human relations; perhaps she can speak on motherhood. But on building a nation, providing for its people, negotiating a long-term, real peace agreement with neighbors that still, to this day, would rather destroy us than sit at the table with us?

When You See a Cloud

When I was flying over Europe, I looked at the clouds. They were really beautiful and so I took out my new camera - the one Haim helped me pick out (meaning he picked it out because he knows what he's doing) and I took a picture.

Haim, my wonderful son-in-law was born in Israel (happy recent birthday to him!!!!) and he's never been outside Israel.

Haim's father, Yosef, was born in Israel. He too has never been outside the land of Israel. Yosef's parents came from Libya to the newly re-declared State of Israel.

None of Haim's siblings have ever been outside Israel and my daughter has happily and proudly accepted the fact that from this point onwards, she might never leave this land.

It is a tradition they hope to pass on to their son, my amazing grandson, and God willing, other children to come.

Aliza was born in Israel 13 years ago. She has never been outside Israel. She is the only one of my children that I can say this about, and as time passes, it becomes more and more something that I feel I can't choose for her.

It is an incredible thing to know your feet have never walked on any but the holiest of lands.

So, as I flew above the clouds of Europe, I thought - this is a sight they have never seen and so I took the pictures for them.

I thought of my youngest daughter, my son-in-law and his siblings - and I thought of the clouds over Europe when I saw this picture posted to Facebook a few minutes ago.

Shouldering the Pain

Well, that's the title.

So - if you are unlucky enough to take a fall, hope you don't break something.

If you are lucky enough not to break something, pay attention if the pain continues. It seems that while I was lucky enough not to break any bones, I apparently tore my rotator cuff enough to require surgery. On the bright side, each new experience in Israel provides you with a way to learn more Hebrew!

How many new immigrants know how to say bone marrow? Well, less than a month in Israel (back 20 years ago), I was directed to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem where I donated bone marrow and learned a bunch of new words.

It seems, exactly 20 years later, I'll be heading back there for yet another procedure - though this one is likely to require a more extensive recuperation.

For now, my left shoulder (did I ever mention I was left-handed?) reminds me often that I can type but not lift and really need to watch how I move it.

There is a concept in Judaism that all things are for the good. That's often a very hard concept to take in. Sherri Mandell lost her son - no, that's the wrong way to say it. Kobi Mandell was not lost, he was murdered in a horrible terrorist action in which two young boys (Kobi and Yosef Ish Ran) were stoned to death just outside the village where they lived. Sherri wrote an incredible book about learning to live after the death of her son. She called it, amazingly enough, The Blessings of a Broken Heart. If you haven't read it, I really recommend you try to get a copy.

How can you find good in such a vile and cowardly act? It's hard to explain, but the concept is there - there is good to be found in all that happens. Having written of the extreme - finding good out of the tragic death of a child, needing an operation is ridiculous.

So, I'm trying to find the good here - for one thing, it is slowing me down; forcing me to think about what I can do and what I can't; and forcing me to accept more help from others. My husband and kids have been amazing. I've barely driven anywhere; haven't shopped in weeks. This past Friday, Amira came over and helped me cook and she and Davidi and Aliza cleaned.

My kitchen is amazingly orderly - no one dares leave a dish around and if they do, everyone starts asking where it came from and who is going to wash it.

The surgery remains a huge mountain in front of me - a mountain of pain and restrictions that is incredibly daunting. So, for the next bit, I'll take it as it comes; I'll try to find the good and I'll be thankful that what I have can be fixed; that I have help - friends and family that have come forward to help.

There is a blessing in everything - if we have the strength to look for it, the courage to accept it. That's my task for the next few months...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unconfirmed Claim Against Pelephone by Lone Soldier

I don't know if this story is true or not. I do not know the soldier (Meir Gerichter) who is involved in this story. If it is true...I am calling on my friends to share this story - to spread it wide and far. And I am calling on Pelephone to make good. He came here to serve this country. I am an expert on being cheated by a cellular phone company. I became a happy Pelephone customer because I was (and continue to be) cheated by Orange - Partner services. They committed fraud, forgery, and have set and canceled numerous appointments. Someday, I'll have to deal with this miserable company unless I am lucky and they get the much deserved bankruptcy they deserve.

Pelephone - I have more faith in you - please prove me right. Hebrew and Google-translated English below. Not a good translation - but good enough to get the gist of it. When I have time, I'll go back and try to fix it. For now -  this is what it is.

UPDATE: The story is true - and Pelephone has already made good, removing the debt of over 50 hours of conversations on a plan that only allocated 350 minutes. This is the sign of a good company that cares about customer service. I am proud to be a Pelephone subscriber!


מצדיעים לחיילי צה"ל

מבקשת את עזרתכם בשיתוף והעתקת פוסט זה לעמוד של #פלאפון.

שלום, קוראים לי מאיר גריכטר ואני בן 22 בחודש הבא. נולדתי בקנדה וכל המשפחה שלי גרה שם גם היום. לפני כשנתיים החלטתי לעלות לארץ כדי להתגייס לצהל והיום אני חייל בודד שמשרת בתחום ההגנה האווירית.
התלבטתי רבות עם לשתף את הפייסבוק בבעיה שלי ובעצת חבריי (שגם כותבים בשבילי בעברית את הפוסט הזה כי אינני יודע עברית כ"כ טוב) החלטתי שזה הניסיון האחרון שלי לנסות לשנות את המצב שנקלעתי אליו.

הייתי מנוי לחברת hot mobile, ויום אחד בדרכי לצבא נציגה של חברת #פלאפון בדוכן בקניון בחיפה קראה לי והזמינה אותי לשמוע מה שיש לחברת פלאפון להציע לי.

חשוב לי להגיד שהעברית שלי לא כל כך טובה וכל השיחה התנהלה באנגלית-עברית מצידי ואנגלית רעועה מצידה. 

אמרתי לה שבחברה שאני נמצא בה יש לי תוכנית עם שיחות לחו"ל (כדי לדבר עם הבית בקנדה), והיא אמרה שהיא יכולה להציע לי תוכנית יותר אטרקטיבית עם שיחות לחו"ל ואינטרנט מהיר, אסמסים ושיחות בארץ ללא הגבלה. התוכנית של חברת פלאפון נשמעה לי משתלמת יותר, ובתור חייל שלא מרוויח הרבה, חתמתי על הסכם שבו הבנתי שאני הולך לשלם על התוכנית הזו בסביבות ה-110 ש"ח בחודש. 

כעבור מספר חודשים הגיע אליי חשבון של 6,749 ש"ח מחברת פלאפון. 

התקשרתי במהירות לנציגת השירות ושם הודיעו לי שאלה החיובים על השיחות שביצעתי הביתה להורים בקנדה. יום לאחר מכן הלכתי למרכז של פלאפון בחולון, סיפרתי לנציג השירות שם על החיובים המטורפים שקיבלתי והוא בתשובה אמר שאיננו יכול לעזור לי, ושמעתה אם לא אשלם הם יחייבו אותי עם ריבית כל חודש וכיום החוב שלי עומד על 11,000 שקלים.

החוב המטורף הזה של 11,000 ש"ח גרם לי לקחת חופש מהצבא כדי שאוכל ללכת לעבוד ולנסות להשיג קצת כסף על מנת לשלם את החוב. 

התסכול הכי גדול הוא שהייתי אמור לקבל את דרגת הסמל שלי בתקופה הזו ובמקום לקבל אותה אני עובד יום-יום במפעל כדי לשלם את החוב. 

אני מרגיש מרומה ומנוצל, ושנציגה של פלאפון ראתה בי טרף קל עם עברית רעועה שיכניס הרבה כסף לחברת פלאפון. אני עם תחושות קשות ועצובות שבמקום להיות בצבא עכשיו, שזו הסיבה בגללה עליתי ארצה אני נמצא כעת במפעל ומנסה בקושי רב לעבוד ולכסות חוב ענק שאין לי מושג איך אני הולך לשלם, שנוצר בגלל שחייגתי להורים שלי ולמשפחה בבית. 

אני משתף אתכם בסיפור שלי כי אני אובד עצות לגבי המצב שנקלעתי אליו. הדבר היחידי שאני רוצה הוא להחזיר את המצב לקדמותו ושאני יוכל לחזור לצה"ל ולהמשיך לשרת ולהגן על כל אזרחי המדינה. באמת באמת. 

תודה על כל עזרה שלא תהיה, 

מאיר גריכטר. 

Bad English Translation:

Asking for your help and cooperation.

Hello, my name is Meyer Gerichter and I'm 22 next month. I was born in Canada and my family still lives there today. Two years ago I decided to come to Israel to enlist into the IDF and today I am a lone soldier who serves in the air defense.

Many debated with Facebook to share my problem and the advice of my friends (who also wrote for me in Hebrew this post because I do not know Hebrew so good) I decided it was my last attempt to try to change their problem.

I subscribe to mobile hot, and one day the army way representative of a mall booth # Phones Haifa called me and invited me to hear what I have to Pelephone to offer.

It is important to say that my Hebrew is not very good and all conversation was in English - Hebrew and English sides shaky on her part.

I told her I was a society have a plan with international calls (to speak with a home in Canada), and she said she could offer me a more attractive with the overseas calls and high speed internet, SMS messages, and calls the country without restriction. Pelephone's plan sounded better paid, and as a man who earns a lot, I signed an agreement in which I realized I was going to pay for this program around -110 per month.

A few months later came to me an account of NIS 6749 from Pelephone.

Quickly I called the service representative there told me a question I did billing for calls home to parents in Canada. The next day I went to the center of Cell Holon, told the service representative where I got the crazy charges and he said he could not answer to help me, and from now on if I do not pay they will be charged with interest every month, and my debt now stands at 11,000 dollars.

This crazy debt of NIS 11,000 made me take off from the army so I could go to work and try to get some money to pay the debt.

The biggest frustration is that I was supposed to get my sergeant rank during this time and instead get her I'm working day - a day at the factory to pay the debt.

I feel cheated and exploited, and representatives of Pelephone saw me as an easy target with the Hebrew shaky that will bring a lot of money to Pelephone. I am a serious and sad feelings instead of being in the army now, that's the reason why I moved here I was now trying to plant barely work and cover a huge debt I have no idea how I was going to pay, I dialed created by my parents and family at home.

I share my story with you because I'm at a loss as their problem. The only thing I want is to restore the situation to normal and I can go back to the army and to continue to serve and protect all citizens. Really is.

Thanks for any help.


Oh, they make this too easy - more fake pictures

Oh, this is too easy.

Dear Gaza - here's a clue - Google lets us trace images. When you post an image from a year ago - you're going to get caught. Sheesh...

No, this wasn't from last night - it was from the last time Gaza launched hundreds of rockets at Israel. It was from the last time my son was called up; the last time Israel mobilized to show that it would not allow these rocket attacks.

At least, if you are going to claim we shot at you, be original..

So @iFalasteen posted this claim  - a picture of an "explosion took place in Gaza few hours ago" - um...well, if November, 2012 was a few hours ago, maybe he's right. By my calculation, nine months ago and the Middle East in the midst of Gaza bombarding Israel with hundreds of rockets, wasn't a few hours ago.

So, not trusting that @iFalasteen was any more honest than @Resistance48, I did a bit of checking.

It's really very easy - maybe I should show the Arabs how?

Well anyway, yup - another fake picture.

Here's the fake one with the claim that this just took place:

And here's the proof that the picture, the same picture, was taken (at least) from November 2012 - for all I know, it isn't even Gaza.


And the Lies Go Marching On....

Really folks, when are they going to learn that Google makes image reuse so easy to trace.

For example, take a look at this picture posted by @Resistance48 - he writes that this is a picture of Gaza today - wow, look at that smoke!

Oh, but wait...

Can it be...


Can smoke form exactly identical formations one year apart (today, June, 2013 and the last one from a website dating back to last November?

Something is rotten in Gaza, and this time, I don't think it's the fish.

Poor Gazans - you have to at least be impressed by their inventiveness. When they lack facts and photos, they simply reuse old ones...

Check it out yourself - the picture is located here:

Stupidly Blind and Blindly Stupid

A rabbi was attacked on the streets of Amsterdam yesterday. The rabbi was beaten, kicked and spat upon. The man who attacked him was a Muslim. Realizing that he was in serious danger by the anger and hatred of the man who approached him, the rabbi asked a passersby for help - but was ignored.

The attacker was probably blinded by hatred because he missed one key factor. The Jew he was beating was a member of Neturei Karta, an organization that is as anti-Zionist and anti-Israel as the Muslim attacker. Interestingly enough, the Muslim was being honest enough to know that there is no real difference between a Zionist and a Jew. The rabbi, however, remains stupidly blind to this simple fact.

This rabbi, who holds Israeli citizenship, belongs to an organization that has stood with Iran in calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth. And in this incident, he proves the very reason why Israel must exist. For the Jews too stupid or too blind to realize it, Israel continues to provide a safe haven. Israel is a beacon of light, warning the world that there will never be another Holocaust.

At the President's Conference, Bibi Netanyahu stood up and with the conviction we all feel, said, "I won't allow it." He was, of course, speaking for all Israel and for all Israelis.

Yes, a rabbi was beaten in Amsterdam because he wears the garb of the Jew and despite his blind stupidity in belonging to an organization that actually agrees with his attacker, he still became a victim of hatred.

In the logical world. the rabbi would realize his mistake; understand that to the man who attacked him, all Jews deserve to be beaten, and all of Israel is occupied and needs to be destroyed.

In the real world, the beaten rabbi would understand that ONLY through Israel, will the Jewish people avoid another Holocaust because when all is said and done, only Israel provides the protection, the haven, we need.

As the Syrian border heats up, nations pull their "peacekeeping" forces away. Yesterday - two things happened - a rabbi was beaten for being a Jew, even a blind and stupid one, and seven rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.

The rabbi remains in the hospital; Israel's air force flew into action this morning answering the attack by hitting multiple military targets.

I don't expect the rabbi to become enlightened; I don't expect Gaza to learn either.

May God bless the land and people of Israel, even the stupid ones, and may the Guardian of Israel protect our guardians, our sons and daughters who defend this land.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bibi Netanyahu - in Translation

Bibi Netanyahu walked on the stage at the closing of the President's Conference (Tomorrow 2013) and I knew he'd be a great speaker - he always is. When he is addressing an international audience, as he knew he would be, his words are strong and resonate with the meaning of Israel. When he speaks to Israelis, that's when I have more problems because that's when he is fighting for his political future and in doing so, sometimes forgets to fight for the land and country itself.

He has to play politics, and he does it very well. He has to compromise, to walk a fine line between Lieberman, Bennet, Shas, the Ultra-Orthodox parties, the secular, the opposition. In short, he's so busy dancing, he forgets to think.

But I knew, I just knew, that at the President's Conference, he's shine in a way that few others can. He's quick-thinking, very intelligent, and dynamic. What follows below is as near to transcription as I could get - almost word for word. If someone prints a transcript later, you are likely to find a few mistakes and some missing sentences, but if no one does-  this will do as a decent transcription.

Minutes after he took the stage, two hecklers stood and began calling out, shouting about the economic situation. While security moved in to remove them - non-violently - Bibi correctly pointed out that this is part of democracy and I quickly tweeted - listen up, Turkey, this is how you deal with demonstrators - not with tear gas and violence. Had these same people stood outside with signs, they would have had a chance to have their say. Once removed from the hall, they will not be beaten, though they may be detained and questioned. For the "sin" of speaking out, they probably won't even be arrested. He spoke of three goals: security, prosperity, and peace.

Anyway - Bibi's speech...


There is an earthquake - it is changing the face of the world. It is turmoil and it is unclear. It is not yet clear who will have the upper hand. The jury is out. Now I'm convinced that the forces of freedom, education will ultimately win out; but ultimately that is not good enough for the Jewish people. Ultimately, the forces of goodness overtook the forces of evil but our people paid a terrible price. I will not let that happen again. Israel will not let that happen.

And the danger we face is that the most dangerous weapons will fall into the hands of the most dangerous nations - specifically one nation. Iran's dictator denies them their rights and prevents them from materializing that future.

The first thing that the new president of Iran said was that Iran must be guaranteed their rights. He didn't say the Iranian people must be guaranteed their rights. He said IRAN must be. And they think that means nuclear weapons.

We may be seeing a change in style but not in content. The "new" way is that you smile, you talk, and you move forward to nuclear Iran. The second in command in Iran criticizes the last president for not engaging in this tactic. We cannot allow the Iranian regime to play this game. Now there is a critical test.

They must stop ALL enrichment; remove what has been enriched; and shut down the nuclear plants. I say to the international community, you must keep up the pressure.

This is fundamental for international security and fundamental to Israeli security.


You know the old joke - to make a small fortune in Israel, you need to come here with a big one. Well, that isn't true anymore. There are ways to make big fortunes and in Israel - we've shot ahead.
Ten years ago, our GPA was 2/3 of European, today, we have passed some and are right there with others.

We once had the economy of a developing company - we've emerged. We are one of the most advanced economies in the world. We lead the OECD by opening up our economy... to the genius of our people.

We have to sustain such growth. It gets harder but we are going to do it. We are going to modernize our ports. Just about everything you see - this land, this piece of wood...well, not everything - but just about everything you see goes through our ports and we will make it cheaper and more available.

Second, we are going to open up more markets - we just need a tiny sliver of a huge market. In China, in Latin America. I was recently in China.

What interested the Chinese was three things - Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology. And in Poland, he was interested in 3 things - Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology.

What we need is to push forward into new markets.

Third - GAS!

Who would have thought Israel would be an energy power. We were lucky not to have discovered it in the first 65 years and so we developed other resources.

We're not going to make the same mistake of not exporting our gas as other countries have done. We are going to fill the coffers of the State with export for the benefit of all.

We're going to open up transportation so that you can commute all over the country and live anywhere and be close to work.

And information technology - we're going to open up the information highway. I want every child - every young boy, every young girl - every Arab kid in a small village - every child - to be connected to this fast highway. It will give EVERYONE an opportunity to participate.

Prosperity is within reach. We have outstripped so many of the developed companies - and we're not stopping.


And the third goal - beyond security and prosperity - is peace. I want peace! Now the only way to negotiate is to begin and we are ready to begin now - without preconditions.

We're only 15 minutes apart  - well, with a police escort, even less.

The reason there is no peace has to be addressed. I put no conditions on entering the negotiations but in order to end them successfully we must address the issue of why we have been unsuccessful in getting peace. Why have successive governments - 6 since Oslo  - have failed. This conflict predates 1967 by half a century; it predates the settlements.

What were the 1920 attacks on Jews in the land? It was an attempt to prevent the state. That was the reason. And then we vacated settlements - and still the attacks continued.

Why are you still doing this? And they answered to liberate Palestine. And we asked Judea and Shomron? And they answered - Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod.

We need a Palestinian leadership that will accept the Jewish state - that was and remains the underlying problem. I don't ask for these questions - of recognition and 20 other issues - there are 21 that need to be negotiated but that's for after.

Sometimes there's a lot of discussion, a lot of debates that don't get to the heart of the matter. THIS is the heart of the matter - the willingness of our neighbors to accept us as we accept them.

That's the tomorrow I wish for; that's the tomorrow I know you wish for.

May we succeed.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bill Clinton on Them and Us

At President's Conference  - Tomorrow 2013

Bill Clinton came to Israel with a bit of controversy. At a time when Israel is cutting the budget on social and military spending (for example, Elie's upcoming reserve duty has been canceled), this conference is costing hundreds of millions of dollars for a two day event that just seems an extravagance.

He came with a message - congratulations to Shimon Peres, but also a comment on world interactions. There is, he explained - the us and the them. Throughout history, man has struggled to define who is part of the us and who is part of the them. They are the enemy; us encompasses the friends.

Clinton maintains that as time goes on, as the world turns more to a global community, the scope of us is increased and that which is them shrinks. While understanding, he says, what Israel is surrounded by, he comes again with the idea that maybe peace is possible.

And as I listened to him, I had the same feeling as when I listened to Tony Blair. Why don't they understand that what works in the US doesn't work here? Why don't they see that you can't make friends with all your least, at very least, those that don't want to make friends with you?

Peace is a lovely concept. So long as it remains just a concept - those who speak of it are blind dreamers and while it is important to dream and then to work as hard as you can to make that dream become reality - you have to draw the line somewhere. And where is that somewhere?

If you have a heart condition, you should not be doing something that endangers your life. If you have a torn rotator cuff in your shoulder, you shouldn't be carrying heavy things (yeah, there's a hint there). You do what you can - you build peace where you can...and really important, Mr. Clinton - you recognize what you cannot do. There are limitations and in Israel, these limitations are very real.

As much as the global us sounds good - there will always be a them. To the Arabs, we will always be "them" - and to be fair, I can't imagine a world where they will ever be "us." Pretending peace can be made by changing OUR attitude is absurd.

I'm not sure when a friend comes to Israel - this is the message we need him to deliver. All the words (and all the money spent on this conference) won't change that most basic fact.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tomorrow 2013 - Tony Blair's Vision

Once a year, President Shimon Peres hosts the President’s Conference and once again this year, I was invited to attend. It’s fun to go as a blogger – to be recognized with all the honor and privilege of a journalist. Of course, we don’t get the same pay, but we are free in a way that journalists shouldn't be. They are supposed to report the news, though too many break that line and cross into the realm of making news.

Bloggers are free to think and express thoughts and so it is particularly nice that we are rewarded here with this. Being a blogger/journalist means walking past a line of dozens, perhaps even hundreds to the front – express check in.

The conference is called Tomorrow 2013 – and it presents a vision of what is to come – something quite ambitious for a man of 90 years of age. This year, Peres’ annual conference has become a joint birthday celebration. Barbra Streisand, Sharon Stone, and Bill Clinton have come to help him celebrate.

As with last year, the lead speaker is former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He is a great speaker, grace, intelligence, humor. He has a vision of the Middle East that enables us to see a bright and clear world, where there is mutual respect, security for all, and truly a world focused on that which betters mankind. He says he is not naive and in many ways I agree. He correctly points out that “much of the sentiment in the west right now is to stay out of Syria, but,” he points out, “as every day shows, the cost of staying out” can (in my words here) be measured in the bodies of innocent Syrians.

Regarding the Syrians, he says “there is only one recourse – to do what is right, even if it is not popular.” He is a popular, dynamic speaker – offering words that are obvious and yet sincere – “we should stand up for truth and democracy.” And yes, he tells us here in Israel, in the only democracy in the Middle East, that “democracy is not just a way of voting, it is a way of thinking.”

He spoke of Iran, and there too, I find myself in agreement. “Those that hold power in Tehran,” Blair said, “

My problem with Tony Blair is that when it comes to Israel…suddenly the naiveté comes through. He says we are wrong to think that the two-state solution idea can’t work; in fact, he believes we who believe in any other long-term solution live in a fantasy. He recognizes potential security issues and yet misses the most fundamental of points. This year, as last year, I am left to wonder how he can be so smart when it comes to Syria and Iran, and so blind when it comes to what is happening here.

I’m left with the simple and irrefutable truth that a speaker last year said. I can’t wait to hear her again this year – from her mouth, I expect the truth – the truth as it applies to Israel and the truth as it applies to others in the Middle East.

“Even if you give them Jerusalem,” she said last year, “even if you give them Jerusalem, there won’t be peace.” That is the great truth that so many at this conference refuse to see. It goes against all the Tony Blair and Bill Clinton and even Shimon Peres want to believe. And yet, a truth it is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

England....So many thoughts

It's 2:00 a.m. here in England. I'm leaving for the airport in just under 2 hours. I should be asleep...yeah, I'm not.

My shoulder is bothering me - that's a whole post by itself, but the bottom line is that I need surgery to fix it and while the surgery itself isn't completely complicated, the recuperation period is intense, complicated and a bit overwhelming at this point.

But more than my shoulder, England brings with it so many thoughts that I want to write about. I find it ironic that after not traveling much in my life, the two places I've arranged to visit are Rome and England - both have long histories connected with the Jewish people, both once ruled my land. In a sense, one took it away from us and the other was instrumental in the path that brought us back to it.

I need to sleep and then write. I need to post pictures - silly since they're all on the web and even there likely more professional than I could have taken, but I want to, and so I'll do that when I get back to Israel.

For now, I want to write about the hotels where I stayed here. I want to post pictures of the hotels as well - one in Manchester, one in London. I'll write about the one in Manchester here because the one in London is the one that is more on my mind and I want to make it a full post.

So, for Manchester - all I can say is that I stayed in a really nice hotel - the Deansgate Hilton. It's the tallest building in Manchester. I got a very good rate because I was attending a conference there. The people working at the hotel were wonderful, professional and kind. I didn't get to the Manchester Jewish community area - hopefully if I ever find my way back to England, and I hope I do, I'll try to get back to Manchester.

I did stop in the Rylands library - I hope I have that right. What an incredible building that is - magnificent. Before I left Israel, I hoped it would rain a lot while I was in England. Crazy, considering most people want sunshine for their vacation - I wanted the rain and amazingly enough...I think it rained every day I was here.

It poured on Shabbat here - literally to the point of hail falling. I walked (back to London again) for about 45 minutes - came back to the hotel completely and entirely soaked to the bone - it was glorious.

So next post - the hotel in London...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Security, Then, Now, Here, There

This one is dedicated to my mother - who reminded me...

When I was 16 years old, two major things happened in my life. My grandfather passed away suddenly, without warning. One day he was there giving me a birthday present and talking about what I learned in Hebrew school; the next he was gone. He'd promised to take me to Israel; it was something we talked about and I assumed in those early days of grief, that my dream and that promise, had died with him.

My mother must have known - certainly understood the depths of what I was feeling, and arranged for me to spend the summer in Israel. It was, for all practical purposes, my first time in Israel. My parents took me to the airport - my mother helped me pack, my father bought me a camera. And as  I was about to approach the check-in counter, I encountered my first experience with Israeli security.

The young shocking now to think that two of my sons are older than that young man was then - questioned me. I was completely, entirely, totally intimidated.

Did anyone hand you anything? No, I said, after carefully thinking through what I had in my suitcase.

Did you pack your bag yourself? Well, my mother helped, I answered slowly again.

Were your bags with you the whole time? I had to think - where had I been with them, what had I done. I was so, they were with me, I answered.

My mother called me as I was waiting to check in a few days ago at Ben Gurion on my way through Rome to London to Manchester on a business trip. She said she always remembers that first security guard and how cute he was and his blue eyes and Israeli accent. He had blue eyes? I didn't remember that. All I remember was being terrified that perhaps I wouldn't answer correctly and they wouldn't let me on the plane.

This time, so many years later, I waited in line before the large machines. The women in front of me were Russians, a mother and daughter. One was traveling back to Russia; the other was going to Germany. The security officer asked them questions that took a few minutes.

When my turn came, she took my Israeli passport; asked me where I was going and when I'd be back - and passed me through. Everyone else had loaded their luggage into the machine to have them x-rayed. I can't lift my bags - my doctor and my husband warned me. Ask for help, they told me. DO NOT LIFT YOUR SUITCASE!

I looked around and another security officer came over and said - go over there. Over there, was through the doors without having my bags checked. Over there?

Yes, said the man in Hebrew - you're done.

Really? I asked.

Yup - pays to be an Israeli in Israel, I thought. Pays not to be suspicious and yes, ethnic profiling works. No one seriously thinks I would be blowing up a plane and so I don't have to be searched - good for me and good for all the people behind me.

Ethnic profiling is alive and well - and logical - in Israel. It lets security concentrate on the real dangers instead of wasting time on those who pose no threat. I accept it in my life and yes, I'm grateful for it.

And then I got to Rome and as we came off the plane - wanted just to make my connection to London, I had to pass through security. The check was similar to the one in Israel (except in Rome they didn't ask me to open my laptop computer).  The Israelis on the line coming off the plane were stoic but I have to admit I was confused. Could you tell me what exactly I was supposed to have picked up that could pose a security threat from the time I passed Israeli security, boarded the plane, got off the plane and walked here? It makes no sense...but never mind.

And then I got to England - go on, tell me they don't do ethnic profiling here in England. It's a lie. They do. I arrived and walked along the path following "All other passports." I am neither UK or EU - and so I took myself into the line with hundreds of Indian passengers, Korean passengers and a mixture of Muslim passengers from unknown countries (identified only by their dress).

I watched as each passenger was processed by passport control. I listened as the line wrapped around. I was about 20 people out, slowly moving forward. The woman in front of my was Indian - by dress, skin coloring and passport. How long are you staying here? Do you have any family here? When are you leaving? (She's just getting here.) He continued to question her and finally called over a supervisor.

By now, my turn had come. I have my Israeli passport and my American passport with me. I decided that I didn't care which passport I use and so I pulled out one when I completed the paperwork. It was the American one. I seemed to be the only American in line.

I handed over my passport - and yes, the man spoke to me in a more polite, less condescending way than his previous "client." Why are you here? I'm attending a conference. How long are you staying? Eight days. Stamp, stamp - clear.

Total time for processing - about 25 seconds.

That is ethnic profiling and according to this person's criteria, I passed. I found myself a bit offended on behalf of the other dozen or more people in line. I can understand why people are against ethnic profiling. I was identified as someone who was going to visit the UK, spend tourist dollars, and leave. I was okay - by my skin color, by my way of dressing, and by my passport.

What hypocrisy that Israel is ridiculed and condemned for practicing ethnic profiling to stop bombs from exploding on our buses while others regularly practice ethnic profiling for economic reasons. That man checking this small Indian woman knows she'll never blow anything up. His greatest fear, and the fear of those who trained him, is that she may take someone's job or become financially dependent on Britain to take care of her.

For money, they are allowed, but for our lives, we are not. That, my friends, is wrong.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How Old is Your City?

I haven't gotten to Rome yet - sitting for 3 hours in Terminal G of the Rome airport officially doesn't count. I haven't taken the tour of London yet - but I drove through some beautiful neighborhoods and took the train to Manchester and drove through parts of Manchester. Both London and Manchester are stunning. The architecture of so many of the building is just amazing. There will always be bigger, better, older - the key is to marvel at what you see and enjoy it, and I'm doing that.

I asked the really nice Pakistani taxi driver how old London was - I should just do the research. He said - "very old. More than 300 years old."

Pretty much everything in America (at least in terms of architecture) is, at most, 200 years old so at 300 and more, that becomes impressive. The problem, I realize, is that after living in Israel so long, pretty much nothing tops it. There are parts of Jerusalem that are 2,000 years and more. Rome will likely have similarly aged buildings but I've clearly decided my question was wrong. Old , for someone who is in Jerusalem daily, is not a good measuring factor.

On the flip side, I'm now in the tallest building in Manchester. I made the mistake of asking someone how to find the hotel and he said - find the tallest building...and he's right. It's a really nice hotel...and the view is stunning. I'm having a quiet evening finishing my presentation for tomorrow.

Rome Airport...Some Impressions

I was in Rome airport for a 3-hour layover. It's huge - that was my first impression. I walked off the plane following signs to the second gate and amazingly enough - and thanks to the excellent signs, found a free shuttle to the next terminal.

My next flight left for London from Terminal G. I'm not sure if this is a new terminal - but while it was well built, there were several things that struck me, one that bothered me, and one that delighted me. 

Bothered me - no free Internet. If small Israel can afford to give traveling passengers free Internet, so can the massive Rome airport. As we took off, relatively on time this time and with an amazingly empty flight (thank you, Alitalia, for the extra seat to Rome and the extra two seats to London and the wonderful, attentive flight attendants), I counted seconds between take-offs. From the few I saw - about 4 - they were taking off every 65 seconds or so - for that, Rome, you can give free Internet.

One funny thing happened - well, funny because it was daytime, funny because even the workman was laughing and funny because the flights continued to be processed - but there was a blackout in Terminal G that lasted at least 20 minutes (full for 10 minutes, quite a large amount for 20 minutes, and then elements for more than an hour and a half). People couldn't pay for their food in restaurants (or so they told me) and so were just asked to pay a bit (what they could, I guess, without giving change). The restaurants definitely lost money there. Some of the monitors came on, the escalators, the stores and advertising areas, and other monitors remained off even an hour later. 

And the amazing thing was how much Hebrew I heard on the one hand and the sight that is so common in Israel but I was astounded to see it there in Rome. Early, early evening - I saw several Jewish men form a cluster and my first thought, no way...

They were looking around - as Jewish men often do at that hour. One man signaled to another - 2 - as often happens. They were 8, they needed two more to form a Jewish quorum of 10 men, a minyan. With a minyan, you can say certain prayers. Someone wishing to say the mourner's prayer for having lost a close relative, must gather a minyan.

They began looking at the sun and pointing - they were searching for the direction - to Jerusalem. And then, there in Rome airport, they prayed. I was enthralled; I was proud; I was delighted. I looked at the faces of the people sitting nearby - many were staring at the Jewish men. They had quietly gone to a side wall but were clearly gathering attention.

I watched for a few minutes - no matter where we go, they announced to the world, we are what we are, we do what we must. This happens all over Israel, every day - I loved seeing it in Rome.

I landed late last night in London. I'm having the hardest time speaking English. Hebrew phrases keep coming into my head. When I was told so sign the landing pass, without thought, I signed it in Hebrew. When I signed the hotel registration, I did the same.

This morning, there's a light rain in London. I love it. Rain. I'm likely the only person nearby that is so happy to see the clouds. I tried explaining it but was told that I should be hoping for sun (I didn't tell them, but no way - I want the rain!).

On to Manchester shortly...and more impressions.

Leaving Israel - from the Air - in Pictures

They say pictures speak a thousand words. As a writer, it's so hard to trust that those 1,000 will be the ones in my heart. Leaving Israel, snapping picture after picture, I realized I was trying to take Israel with me. I have hundreds of pictures of my family...for that matter, I probably have hundreds of pictures of my land on my computer.

But these seemed terribly important for me to capture...and so I did - without words, though the writer in me keeps adding them in my head, wanting to point out - look at the fields, look at the buildings - look what we have built in this land that we love. Israel is truly a land of beauty... but I'll stop now and put those pictures in. Not another word from me ... in this post... really.... I will force myself... I will let myself...let the pictures speak. Listen to them, please - they have so much to tell you - of a land of pride and accomplishment, of incredible beauty and determination and creativity and stop...I'm stopping. This is me stopping...


Leaving Israel - a First Impression

My first real sense that I was really going to do this thing - leave Israel without my husband and children and go on this business trip was saying goodbye at the airport. It has, for the last decade or more, me saying goodbye to them and driving back home, sad that he or she has left, but less sad than before because there was always the knowledge that I was where I wanted to be and they, whoever they were, would come back, come home.

This is the way it has been each time with my children - so far Amira and Elie and Shmulik only; this is the way it was the few times my husband has flown. This is how it has been each time Yaakov and Chaim went to that other home, the one of their parents, until they came back (or will come back soon) to the home they've chosen for themselves.

This time, for the first time, it is me leaving. My bags being packed, my clothes and things, and my husband left to drive the car back to the amazing life and home and family we have built in Israel. I had my first doubts then...because there is another love that I left. I take my family with me - in my heart, in too many phone calls already with Aliza and my husband.

To SMS text messages or emails or pictures I am taking to show them...the cars for Shmulik and Davidi; the hotel for Aliza; the stores and signs for Amira...and I'll find something to take for Elie too.

But what I couldn't take with me was that other love of my life - Israel. Leaving Israel behind was more painful than I can explain. There was never a question I'd go back to my family, but I found myself promising Israel that I'd be home soon too. How insane is that? Never mind, this is my blog and I can express my insanity here, so there it is.

So, my first impression was of leaving was tremendous pride - reinforced later when I landed in Rome Airport.

In Israel - Terminal 3 Departure Hall - where all outgoing passengers go - is amazing. With all of my experience of two airports (London and Rome), I have to say Israel shines. There is free Internet - use it, surf, have fun.

There are free charging stations - for phones (including plugs for the universal USB, the iPhone and more) and empty plugs so I recharge my laptop and work a bit. All the duty free shops - tons. American chocolate...don't ask, tons of alcohol - too bad I don't drink...(can't stand the taste).

I called my oldest daughter and joked that I was moving there permanently. What more could you need – wide open spaces, bathrooms close by (ones that are cleaned for you, no less), free Internet, a wide variety of food stores – including one called Chocolate and More.

What & more could you need? 

I was a bit disappointed that the Alitalia plane arrived late and so we got a late start.- but in the scheme of things, it wasn't that big a deal. I think I just expected everything to run so perfectly - but not a big deal. 

Within a short time, I was I sat waiting on the plane to take off, a wave of...something, came over me. Melancholy? I've always loved that word. Hesitation? I'm not sure.

I took out my camera and felt the need to take pictures...this is Israel - and I promise you, Israel, I'll be home very soon.

Leaving Israel...from the runway, from the air...that last glimpse backwards...that's my next post...

Rome Airport...On the Way

To maximize what I'm going to be able to see on this short business trip to London, I chose - can you imagine - to take a longer flight involving a stop-over in Rome. On the way to the conference, I was only in Rome from for 3 hours - enough to change terminals, get a bottle of water, and sit and wait for the next flight. On my way home in a week, I'll have 12 hours - and hope to see something. With the time it takes to go to and from the airport, it's likely that something will be one thing and so I have to decide...what.

If you were in Rome to see one thing - what would it be?

Me on the Move....

So here's a warning, I guess.

For the last, well - about 16 years, I've only left Israel once, and that was to go to Poland. No one can call going to Poland as a Jew on a voyage to remember and honor those who were murdered during the Holocaust a vacation. It was, a decade ago, a visit that changed my life. I only agreed to go because Amira felt it was important that she, as many, many young Israelis do - make this pilgrimage and she asked me. She said she needed me and I understood. In the end, to be honest, I am left with the feeling that I needed her to be with me at least as much as she needed me, f not more.

Other than that, we've visited the US twice - once to visit my ailing in-laws and let them see our three young children, and once to take our four young children to celebrate my older brother-in-law's wedding. In short - two family-related visits, both more than a decade ago.

In really short - as much as I dream of seeing the beauty of Ireland, Scotland, Italy, far-off lands in the Far East and Asia, scenes of natural beauty in Africa, the mountains of South America, the frozen beauty of Alaska, and all that I haven't mentioned, each time we take a family vacation, it has been restricted to Israel.

I'm now sitting in an amazing hotel in London. They've promised to tell me what the building was once before it was converted to a kosher hotel - the amazingly helpful woman who guided me through my early hours here thinks it was a convent or a church. I can see the convent part, though wow, it couldn't possibly have looked then as it does now.

So - for the next week or so - this blog is probably going to be more about me and my travels - I hope you'll bear with me as I discover a bit of the world...a very small bit.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Thinking Head - Rosh Gadol

There are two terms in Israel, easily translated, but less easily understood. There is the concept of rosh katan - which translated literally, means small head. What it refers to is someone who likely does all he is supposed to do - but only what he is supposed to do. Someone with a rosh katan never sees the larger picture, never thinks beyond the narrow confines.

Once I explain the first term, the second term is likely to be quite clear - rosh gadol - means large head and refers to that person who thinks beyond, manages the big picture. Usually, this is a good thing, except when you want someone to manage the details and not over-think, not over analyze.

Israel is, overall, a country that likes the people with a rosh gadol - the army craves them, rewards them, honors them, and so does the nation. Yesterday, two different things happened - hours apart, that made me, once again, love the concept of a rosh gadol.

The first - my husband and I were driving on the highway that climbs from a valley, alongside a steep incline, towards, next to, and then beyond, the entrance of the city. For those familiar with Jerusalem, we were driving on the Menachem Begin highway from Shderot Golda Meir towards Malka.

As we entered the highway, there was terrible congestion - I thought it was because of the highway and then I saw the smoke. The valley below was on fire and the smoke and flames were reaching up the side almost to the highway...

And then we saw police flashing lights...and...a truck...driving the wrong way on the entry ramp. The police were telling the cars to move to the right; the truck moved behind the police car on the left. And then, as we inched closer, we understood. This was a large truck, laden with fuel - the last thing you want anywhere near a fire. I don't know if it was the driver who had the rosh gadol and realized what was ahead and stopped; or the police who acted to avert what could have been a major incident.

Slowly, the truck exited the entry ramp. We climbed up the hill and passed several fire trucks and firemen fighting the fire, pouring water on the flames and pushing them back.

And later, as I was standing with Elie in a store, he got a beep on his phone. A plane was coming in to Israel; it was in trouble. Emergency forces mobilized and the call went out to all volunteers to converge on the southern airport. Eighty people on board. Ambulances were lining up. It was a bit surreal - hearing Elie; watching people shop. I was waiting for him to tell me horrible news; praying for it to be okay, for the plane to land safely.

It did. No crash landing; no casualties. How many minds went into planning what was necessary to avoid a tragedy. A pilot sending out the needed call; the control tower personnel, and the preparation, just in case.

The happiest endings are those where the extreme is not needed; where the cautions taken seem to have been unnecessary; where the rosh gadol worked and so nothing exploded, nothing crashed.

The best case scenario for resources put in place to handle a tragedy, end up being wasted. It's a wonderful day in Israel when nothing explodes, nothing goes on fire, nothing crashes - when the call to volunteers gets answered quickly and the ambulances line up for nothing.

Copyright Statement

Everything on this site is protected and copyrighted according to Israeli and international laws. Violators WILL be prosecuted.

For permission to use pictures or text from this site, please write to: