Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jerusalem Mayor Battles Terrorist...Video!

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

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

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

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

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

The mayor speaks about what happened (in English):

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

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

A 19 Year Old's Vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, February 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing in the Snow...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Badge of Shame

Over a decade ago, I went to Poland with my oldest daughter. I had hoped to support her as she learned. I didn't need to learn anything because I had read EVERYTHING, knew EVERYTHING...and quickly learned that for all I had read, for all that I had learned, I knew nothing, needed to learn as much, and probably more than my daughter.

For eight days, I saw, I cried. I asked, not why the Holocaust happened, but why Israel didn't pull up all the graves, all the bones, all the ashes, and bring them home to Israel so that in death, they would get the respect denied to them in life. Why would we leave our precious souls in the cold grounds of Europe? And when I met some of the few Jews who remain in Poland today, I couldn't stop myself from asking why they lived there still.

I spoke to a woman who was born in 1946 in Poland. Are your parents still alive? I asked her. No, they died long ago, she answered. She even has a daughter living in Tel Aviv and when I heard that, I lost it, "WHAT are you doing HERE?" I asked her. She just smiled and said she knew no other home. I stopped asking people after that; it was something I knew that I would never understand.

For the past few weeks and months, I have been writing wherever I can, asking Jews of Europe to leave. I am one person, not a politician, not well known. A mother, a voice...but there are so many other voices saying the same thing that I have hoped they would listen. Some are, some have written that they are trying. Many know the time is fast coming.

For the last day or so, I have been staring at a picture that reminds me of Poland and the days I spent there. My first two days in Poland involved visiting cemeteries, many desecrated, all abandoned and decrepit. I visited mass graves in forests and parks, as Polish families played and picnicked nearby.

As we approached our first concentration camp on the tour - Maidanek. I walked next to my daughter and her friend and heard we were approaching "Har Effer" (or maybe it is called Har Ha'Effer). "Har" means mountain in Hebrew. I struggled in my mind with the word "effer" and finally asked my daughter, whose Hebrew will always be stronger than mine.
"Ashes," she replied.

I looked ahead and saw what resembled a spaceship, a concrete mountain with wings coming out in a perfect circle...I thought for a second that it was a symbolic name - Mountain of Ashes...and then, to my horror, I realized it was most definitely not symbolic.

As we entered, I saw that indeed, there was a mountain of the center and the spaceship-like structure was simply meant to keep the ashes on display despite wind and rain. I looked at this huge mountain...I had two thoughts.

The first was that Jews don't do this - we don't put our dead on display. What little dignity in death that mankind could have afforded them after they were rounded up, gassed, and cremated by the Nazis, was being stolen from them by the Poles and their "exhibit."

My second thought quickly pushed the first away as reality finally hit. I walked over to one of the Israeli guides. Most of our conversations until that point had revolved around my asking why Israel allowed this cemetery to remain, desecrated like this. Why we had not taken the graves to Israel? Each time, he didn't really give me an answer though he was patient enough to listen.

In Maidanek, before the ashes of only God knows how many, I looked at him and finally admitted the truth to myself and to him. "There isn't enough room, is there? In all of Israel, we could fill the country and there still wouldn't be enough to bring them all home."

Only one other time on our trip did the topic of bringing the dead to Israel come up again. The main guide, Chaim, took us to his grandfather's grave. His mother's father was buried with 85,000 other Jews and though the grave was not marked at the time, the Poles had recorded the man's name and the grave location.

With two different Polish guides, Chaim was able use the plot number to find the exact location and when he found the grave and was sure it was right, he decided that he wanted to bring his grandfather to rest in Israel. He told his mother and uncle what he wanted to do.

His uncle responded with unexpected anger, asking what of the other 84,999 Jews buried there. "Will you bring them too?"

So Chaim did what he could. He arranged to have a stone marker made for his grandfather and left the grave in Poland, one of 85,000 Jews murdered by the Nazis in that field.

All this and more came to my mind when I saw a picture of desecrated graves in France. It isn't enough, I thought with anger, to attack the living in France, they are also attacking our dead. They believe, in their incredible stupidity, that the dead can be made less, can be hurt, insulted. Each swastika is at once a badge of shame for Europe, and a badge of pride for the Jews buried there. What they fail to understand, these individuals who hate us so much, is that even in death, even years later when the physical bodies have turned to bone and dust, their swastikas simply confirm that in death, they are what they were in life...Jews.

Jews in life, Jews in death. I think they would have considered that a great honor. Through my fury, I keep telling myself that the writing on the stone is nothing to them, just as the twisted and desecrated stones in Poland were nothing to the Jews buried below. We remember the great rabbis who lived before World War II, their legacy lives on in their descendents and in their teachings. What does it matter if the Poles smash their tombstone or someone in France puts a swastika on stone.

There is something particularly horrible about attacking the dead. Of course, I guess it's better than attacking the living but somehow, it comes back to the aliyah issue. This is what they will do to you, if you choose to die in that foreign land; for all eternity, you will rest among strangers.

And even if we visit you, you'll never rest in soil that is yours, in a land where your memory will never be desecrated.

There are many reasons to make aliyah and I guess, though it is hard for me to admit, there are many reasons not to. When we first came to Israel, my husband came here before us and found us a place to rent. I told him I would be happy in a caravan, he found us a villa.

To this day, I feel the same way. I'd rather live very simply in Israel than extravagantly anywhere else. I'd rather eat basics, have the simplest clothes and spend whatever non-working time walking the mountains and streets of Israel, than eat in fine restaurants, wear fancy clothes and vacation anywhere else.

So long as the reason someone doesn't make aliyah is because they aren't sure about the economic realities they'll find here, their situation isn't nearly as desperate as it was for the Jews of Germany, Poland, and other countries from which so many Israelis came. Had there been a way, they would have come, even if the degree they had would not be honored here, even if they had to prove they could drive all over again, even if they had to work sweeping the streets. Life and death...they would have chosen life. The problem is, all too often, when it finally gets down to that moment when it is life and death, seldom are we actually given the choice to choose life. Or, more accurately, we missed all the opportunities and only death waited for us.

Israel is here for those who feel Israel is the right place for Jews to live; Israel is here for those who feel it is the only place for Jews to live.

Israel is here for any and all Jews who are alive today but sadly, as I learned that day in Maidanek, there isn't enough room in all of Israel for those who spent their lives elsewhere and died there. Their souls are in the Heavens, but the physical remains will always be there in the earth where they lived and died.

If it helps any, a swastika painted on their graves is a badge of honor, bringing shame only to those who painted it, those who support them, and those who live in a country where this could happen.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pictures I've Been Meaning to Share

I take pictures and create posts in my mind and then get stuck and forget...until I dump all the pictures on my computer and then think, wait I wanted to share this. So, here they are...

Sending a Message Across the World.

This one is very special. I was driving home a few days after the attack on the kosher supermarket in know, the random attack on a bunch of folks in a deli that was random because the killer didn't know the names of the people and because it just so happened there was at least one non-Jew in the Jewish-owned store on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath when nearly all of the Jewish patrons were shopping...yeah, that random attack.

As I entered Jerusalem, I saw this sign and stuck at a light, I was able to take a picture. It shows two flags - France and Israel, and says, "Jerusalem hugs the people of France."

The Shuk and the Inflating Flower

Near our offices in Jerusalem is Mahane Yehuda - the Jewish open market where they sell fruits and vegetables, inexpensive clothes, and pretty much everything else.

It is an experience shopping there - one that I love. The open market - called a shuk - is where many people go to do their shopping.

Quality is usually very good (for the vegetables) or bad (for other non-perishables).

A few months ago, the city of Jerusalem began building these weird things. I still can't really explain what they are, or why they are - but they remind me of some horror movie prop.

Every few minutes, the red part fills with air and opens to a flower; then it deflates, only to start again. 

They are interesting; they are fun, and I honestly don't have a clue what or why but they certainly entertain. People are constantly taking pictures of them.

Raining Mud

I have never seen this in any other place - but sometimes, it rains mud in Israel. It starts after a period when there has been little rain. First comes what we call a sharav, the wind comes from the east, instead of the west, and brings with it sand in the air. These sand storms are very common in the Middle East and while Israel has less of them than some countries, it still happens.

The air is hard to breathe. You feel like you are swallowing sand, and when the rain finally comes to cleanse the air, it does it, at first, by raining mud. Add to that this beautiful blue car I have - which shows dirt much more than a black, silver or white car. In fact, this past week when it rained mud, my car looked like the dirtiest car on the road.

This is something that neither Elie nor David could resist. And so first, David went out and drew all over my car and Elie's car - writing "Clean Me" and making smiley faces. Elie, not to be outdone, added the hand prints and the huge X made of mud on my car.

Even with some rain in the last few days, I still need to take my car to be cleaned, but at least I got off the worst of it...

Why Jews Don't Belong in France...

To walk in a place and feel others watching you, staring at you, possibly threatening is a feeling that I have never had once in Israel and as my husband and I prepare for two upcoming business trips abroad, it is a feeling that I will carry with me when I leave Israel for these short trips.

This is France today - unprovoked...a Jew walking in the street...unprovoked...France 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Are You Alone?

As I rode the train to work this morning, I saw the first mention of an attack in front of a synagogue in Copenhagen...first report said two policemen were shot (arm and leg) and one civilian was injured. Then, it was clarified that he was shot in the head; then updated again to say that he had died. Soon it was announced that he was the guard outside a synagogue where inside Jewish families were celebrating the coming of age of a young man.

That child now man will forever live with the fact that the guard who stood before his family and friends, sacrificed all for...for...and that's where I get stuck.

Certainly, Dan Uzan is a hero today, as all our security guards here in Israel are. In the simplest terms, he sacrificed his life to save the lives of many others, including many children. Jews, like him. Unsuspecting that today a simple event would be turned into tragedy.

I don't want to take anything away from his sacrifice and yet, like the Jews who died in France, it is so wrong. Wrong place, wrong time, but most of all, in the wrong country...defending what should not need to be defended. There are lines you draw and lines you don't. If the human body cannot live on Mars, you don't go there - at least not to live. We all need home and so we defend it but if someone offers you something beyond home for which the price is too high, you don't buy it, you don't go there.

What is in Copenhagen? Paris? London? Madison, Wisconsin?

If they are desecrating graves with swastikas, beating Jews, taking hostages and murdering places that are not our own and cannot be is time to leave. I know it sounds so simple...but...did you ever consider the fact that it really might be?

You can complicate it by speaking of generations who have lived in these lands, of economic considerations. Of degrees earned that may not be worth much in Israel, of driving licenses that would need to be replaced. What happened today in Copenhagen could have been done in Poland and Germany, the Ukraine and elsewhere.

What they didn't learn then, was when it is time to leave, you pack what you can (sometimes what they let you, sometimes not even that)...and you leave because, as happened this morning - if you don't, it could have been the children. The Jews of Yemen are here and settled; the Jews of Ethiopia. The Jews of Russia finally got out; the Jews of Lebanon, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and most of Iran. Most left with nothing and yet with everything because unlike four Jews in France last month and one Jew in Copenhagen today, they came with their lives.

If Dan Uzan had not put his body between the killers and the guests at that party, we could easily have had another one of Obama's "random" acts, this time against a bunch of folks at a birthday party.

In France last month, there was an eloquent speech in which it was publicly proclaimed that France without its Jews is not France. That may be, but to be honest, I don't care.

In Copenhagen today, the Prime Minister of Denmark tried to comfort the Jews of his country by telling them they are not alone.

What he wanted to say was that the Danes are with them...but honestly, there is a more sinister meaning there as well. He didn't mean to threaten "his" Jews but they should feel threatened because, he is correct - they are not alone.

Similar attacks are happening all over Europe. It is not politically correct to identify "no-go" zones, and yet that is what is happening quietly. Despite a current lawsuit over the apparent inaccurate size/location of one such site, the concept is well established and documented.

Do the research - including information I found the other day. The first post in a series documented no-go zones in France, the second covers Britain. The blog will, it says, be running a series of articles to document Europe's no-go zones and explains that these zones "are the by-product of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated from — rather than become integrated into — their European host nations."

What this means, certainly, is that Copenhagen's Jews are indeed not alone...they, like Jews in many other countries, are at the forefront of the fight against Islamic extremism and a chilling resurgence of anti-semitism, the likes of which Europe has not seen in 70 years.

The question for these communities is whether this is where you want to be? Is that how you want to live? It doesn't matter that France worries about its national character; that Copenhagen mourns the targeting of its Jews.

For all that you imagine life in Israel is harder and more dangerous, the reality is that here in Israel we live in relative peace. There are attacks but we know that the government and security forces are completely committed to protecting us because they are us, we are them. When a man picks up a weapon and guards the mall in his city, knowing that his wife and children, his parents and siblings, his neighbors and friends could be inside, there is no better incentive. How willing are the French to protect its Jews? And do we want to rely on the French police? Will the Danes see this for the systematic poisoning of their society that it is, or try to suggest it is an isolated incident?

The Danish Prime Minister got it half right by offering words he hoped would bring comfort, suggesting that is so much better to never be alone...but if you are together with a monster, you'd probably rather be alone.

If the Jews of Europe and elsewhere are not alone, it is not because their host countries have awakened from their past but because for once, Israel is there beside them. Or, more accurately, awaiting them.

As so many have said to the Jews of Europe in recent days - the Jewish people paid an incomprehensible price for your inability to see the evil on the wall some 80 years ago, as Hitler was making his way to the top. Then, it was understandable, now it is not. Then, by the time you were able to believe, it was too late. Then, cut off from the rest of world Jewry, with no army available, history took its course. In the remnants of the communities that chose to stay or leave - most left. Many came to Israel and helped build this land into what it is today...and in recent years, there has been a resurgence of Jewish culture in Europe that I have always suspected, regretted.

How many more young men and women must give up their lives before you realize that the financial benefits of living in the country where you were born or where you chose to settle, do not outweigh the incredible reasons to If you won't leave for yourself, leave for your grandchildren.

Your children are already coming here - it's happening in France, where 11,000 Jews went to begin learning about the process of moving here just in the last month or so. Rather than tear them in half, come with them, bring them. For all the problems you think we have here, our lives are richer than you can imagine, more secure than you ever dreamed. Don't point to a single incident here and compare it to a massive tidal wave there.

I don't know if this will make sense but here in Israel, we are all targets equally. Obama's absurd comment about random makes some sense here - because while the terrorist attacks Jews here, it means he is attacking most Israelis - so while the crime is still terror, the victim doesn't matter - not to the terrorist and not to us. He will attempt to kill with all his power; we will attempt to defend will all of ours. Each person here is equally protected, equally loved, equally valued.

You ARE alone there relative to your society because the attack on the synagogue this morning was an attack against Jews, not Danes; the attack on the supermarket in Paris was an attack against Jews, not France. Every attack against Jews here is an attack against Israel.

Here, you are never alone - not as a target, not as a valued member of society. Not as a Jew, not as a human being. There, you are a Jew...born to live on the edge, to be targeted when some hate-filled extremist wants to attack, and protected when your host country remembers (which usually happens right AFTER the attack).

What could not be done in 1944 can be done in 2015.

Get. Out. Now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Spin of Evil

When President Barack....dare I use his middle name....Obama spoke of the attack against a kosher supermarket in Paris, he chose the path of evil. He chose to inflict more hurt, more anger. He chose to adhere to his agenda to downplay the absolute barbaric nature of Islamic extremism.

What he said is an attempt to deny the most important aspect of why four Jews died that tragic Friday in wasn't because they happened to be shopping in a kosher supermarket. They didn't "happen" to be there. They planned their day to include this important stop in preparation for the Sabbath that was coming. One of the men knocked on the door of the supermarket, desperate to buy challah, the sweet bread we eat each Shabbat. One of the women inside was sent by the terrorist to tell the man to go away but the man insisted that he needed to shop for the Sabbath and when he entered, he was murdered in cold blood. No random victim - a Jewish man shopping in a Jewish store hours before the Jewish Sabbath was to arrive.

It is impossible, after 6 long years of the reign of Obama to ignore his absolute disdain for our Prime Minister, our country, our religion. So filled with himself, Obama's latest insult means little, even if it is one of his most demeaning ones.

The way I figure it, a pile of manure will smell horrendous. At some point, it no longer makes a difference how high the pile is, how long it stays in the same place. This latest insult of's just piling more on the mountain. Once you recognize the mountain for what it is, the man for who he is, it's pretty much a done deal - the man can't stand Israel, and like his preacher, is going to do all he can to hide his anti-Jewish feelings by clouding them with other random attacks on random targets...all of which happen to be Israeli and Jewish.

I heard Obama's comment and the anger washed through me - I expected no less, honestly. But what is chilling is the lengths others will go to defend, to explain, to spin.

Why, for once, can't Jen Psaki just be honest and say she doesn't know why Obama would suggest that the attack was random? Just once, I'd love to see her stare at the reporter and say, "well, I just can't explain this one." Why does she intentionally attempt to twist this into an issue for the French, who certainly never suggested this was a random attack?

What is interesting is her body language. I once went to a seminar on body language and the speaker spoke of "tells" - things people do to show they are nervous or being evasive. Watch Psaki's hand motions after the question is asked and she needs to answer. See how often she touches her hair...that's a "tell." I searched it and common consensus says she was either turned on by the reporter who asked the question, or she was nervous. I'd go with the last one. She seems like an intelligent woman - it's so sad that Obama and Kerry keep making her look like an idiot.

And then there's Josh Earnest  - looking not very earnest at all. You see, says Mr. Earnest, it was a random attack because apparently the terrorist didn't know the names of the victims and didn't seek to kill a specific person.

So, I guess America was wrong - the attack on 9/11 wasn't really an attack on America; the Holocaust wasn't an attack against Jews. In fact, by this definition, nearly every act of violence, other than Cain killing Abel, might have an element of randomness.

The fact that the terrorist went into a Jewish-owned store on a Friday afternoon to kill Jews doesn't make it a specific attack on Jews unless the killer knows their names? What we have here is yet another seemingly intelligent person choosing the path towards idiocy. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised - having to explain Obama to the world would probably turn even the most educated person into a blooming moron.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Waiting for Tragic News

In the last few years, perhaps a bit less, there's been a shift of sorts in the relationship I have with my children - some for the better; some for the worse. Some of it is a natural result of their growing older; some a natural result of others coming into their lives so that in growing closer, my children are redefining the relationship they have with their father and mother.

Some of it is a natural result of living in Israel. I came to Israel 21 years ago...I have lived through the Second Gulf War which brought days of tension but no attack to Israel; then years of horrible and barbaric terror attacks that still cause me to stop and listen when I hear an ambulance siren.

Back then, one ambulance meant a woman giving birth or someone becoming ill. Two meant there had probably been a car accident. Three meant something had exploded somewhere and ambulances were racing to the scene. More than once I heard the sirens and rushed to listen to the news..."come on," I would beg the normal programming, "what is happening?" And then, within seconds, the program would stop and a voice would come on, "we're getting reports of an explosion..." On a bus, in a mall, in a restaurant, on a crowded street.

We lived through the Second Lebanon War - when rockets rained down on the north and we lived through more than a decade of rockets being fired at our southern cities until the Cast Lead "Operation." That one and the next were
even more personal because Elie was there - first in Cast Lead, then in Pillar of Defense four year later. And then, this past summer, there was Operation Protective Edge (and yeah, it's still a dumb name). We came here after the First Intifada, lived through the Second, and have been experiencing the third or the threat of a third for more than a decade.

Some say the Third Intifada only came now, in the last few months. If the First Intifada's weapon was rock attacks, the Second Intifada's weapon was explosives and the Third Intifada offers knives, axes, stones, and vehicles as the weapon of choice.

Years after the Second Intifada, I still listen for ambulance sirens, still wait to see if it is just one...or two...or three or more.

A few days ago, as Aliza and I took the bus home together, we heard an ambulance...and then another. A short while later, as we walked from the bus stop to the house, we heard more.

"I hope it's not a pigua [terror attack]," she said as we started walking up the stairs to our house - sirens in the distance.

In the end, we didn't hear any news of an attack, though there were reports of a bus hit by a firebomb.

But what bothered me, yet again, is the thought that in a normal world, fifteen year old girls don't hear a siren and think of a terrorist attack. I know, I know, we don't exactly live in a normal world. Or rather, normal is defined differently here.

Aliza will fuss over her hair and what she'll wear. She'll borrow clothes and want to come home later than I want her too. She'll complain about helping with dishes or laundry and spend hours on her phone with her friends...and when she hears a siren, she'll listen and wonder.

She's 15 and yet she's been caught outside during a missile attack twice in her life. She's 15 and had two brothers serve in the army. She's 15 and knows her youngest brother, at 19, is in the countdown to the army. She's 15...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.

May his memory be blessed and may God avenge his death.

Answering a 17 Year Old Question

Recently, I read a post by a dear friend, Rivkah Adler. The Courage of Olim is an important testimony to the difficulty that new immigrants face in communicating in a language to which they were not born, in a country to which they came as adults.

When my husband and I discussed moving to Israel - something that was my dream not his, I told him I could live with failing but not with never trying. We came. We stayed - mostly because leaving was never an option.

Rivkah detailed her attempts to learn Hebrew. Having seen these many attempts, I am so proud to be her friend. It is acceptable to try and not succeed; it is not acceptable to never try. Having improved my Hebrew to a functioning level, I sometimes am impatient with those who demand that everything be presented to them in English. I seek a balance - one where they continue to try to understand and the rest of Israel tries to help.

I don't want either side to stop attempting to bridge the gap. I don't want immigrants from any country to stay comfortably on "their" side, unable to communicate while waiting for the rest of Israel, nor do I want Israel to be so accessible in every way that we become, for all intents and purposes, an English speaking language. I don't need the radio broadcasters to slip in words of Hebrew and speak of a "vin-vin" situation.

The problem is that too often, people are measured by the wrong yardstick. It isn't what you speak, but what you do. It isn't your language, but your actions. Rivkah and her amazingly generous, funny, intelligent and absolutely wonderful husband Rabbi Elan Adler have been in Israel just over four years - I was there at the airport waiting with tears in my eyes as I watched their plane land and hugged Rivkah with all my heart.

Reading her article, I remembered a conversation I had with a rather nasty neighbor back when we were the new immigrants - four plus years after we moved here.

I had complained to the town because they had dug a meter-wide, meter-deep hole in the dirt path that would eventually be paved but was, at that point, a nightmare for man and car. They apologized for the three week delay and explained that it was because of all the holidays. Why they dug it if they didn't have time to complete the task was something no one could ever explain but the day my oldest son came running down the hill and slipped and landed inches from the hole, I'd had enough.

What I didn't know was that the hole was illegal and all I had to do was call the police. Instead, I called the town - the very ones who had made the hole. You can imagine how successful that was.

Days later and another near miss, I decided to push things back into the hole to lessen the danger as we worked, and out came nasty neighbor and her husband. Only the words she screamed at me were hard to understand at first.

I didn't know what "nezek" (damage) meant back then.

I didn't know what a "keresh" (board) was.

I didn't know what a "biyuv" (sewer) was.

I only knew my child had nearly fallen into a deep hole that endangered lives and property. The neighbor was annoyed that I didn't know sewer and damage in Hebrew and then she spoke words that tore my heart apart, words I did understand but wished that I didn't. By then a few other neighbors and the head of security had come and heard her attack:
"Who are you? What have you given to Israel? My husband came in 1947. He fought for this land! You came and got everything for free! What have you given to this land? It isn't your land!" 
More than a decade later, and I still remember the painful words; my eyes still fill with tears. We were among the newest families out of 350 or so that had chosen to live in that town. People knew we had come from America and that we needed help with everyday Hebrew things.

Everyone who heard her was stunned into silence for a few seconds and then the head of security turned to her and said, "you're an idiot. Shut up and go in your house."

And then he turned to me, a man who was clearly not comfortable with a woman's tears and said, "Stop crying. This is your country. I'll get them to fix the hole." Years later, I can smile remembering how awkward and uncomfortable he was, and how angry.

For months after, he would stop me and ask how I was doing, ask if "that idiot" was bothering me. At that moment, with my heart in pieces, I couldn't have cared less about the hole. Without saying a word, feeling utterly defeated, I went into the house and sat crying. Hearing her words over and over again. "This isn't your country....What have you given to Israel?"

It took me a while sitting in the growing darkness because I begged my husband to leave me alone, I figured it out and, as I often do, I wrote it down because that's how I cope. What came out was a letter to Israel.

I gave you my heart, I wrote. But knew, even as I wrote the words, that that wasn't enough. What value does a heart really have for a country that needs so much more? I asked Israel. It can't defend the country. It can't fight, as that man did for Israel in 1947.

I can never make up the time, I wrote. If I came in 1993 and he came in 1947, he will always have come here first, he will always have done more. Defeated before I even landed.

Next I wrote not what I had given, but what I had given up. I gave up, as Rivkah pointed out, my ability to easily communicate with those around me. I speak as a child, certainly write as one, I wrote.

I gave up being there when my in-laws became sick, when my grandmother died, gave up seeing them in the last years of their lives. I found no consolation until my next thought... Israel, twenty one years ago, I gave you my future.

I brought you my children. Three have already served; one begins next November - each has given years of their lives to defend, to protect, to benefit. I have built a business that employs others and has trained and found employment for hundreds of people.

 It took me years to come up with the right and only answer to that nasty neighbor's ignorant comment. When it was published in Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post, for the first time in my life, I not only got notes, but I got phone calls from Israelis - each with a story.

And I remember those too.

 One came in 1930 from Germany - this is our land too!

One was a 6th generation Yerushalmi (resident of Jerusalem) - this is your land too!

One was a new immigrant - I'll carry your article with me.

One came after World War II - you'll give what you can, when you can.

Don't let anyone tell you this isn't your land too. The head of security stopped by with Haaretz and the translated article in it, "good for you," he said and then smiled and went back to his truck. The courage of olim shouldn't be measured in the level of Hebrew they speak.

Even with what Rivkah claims to be minimal Hebrew, she and her husband have made an indelible mark on Maale Adumim, running charity events that have brought in tens of thousands of shekels to help Israel's poor and ill; our soldiers, and more. Twice a year, she organizes a Book Swap that raises over 20,000 NIS a year for charities, local and national.

Last week, she organized a "teichel" swap that raised 1,400 NIS for a local organization that helps soldiers, and then turned right around to organize a community-sponsored Shabbat for another group of lone soldiers and if that wasn't enough, in the middle of last night, moments after hearing of the death of a recent immigrant, she quickly created and posted a document to provide meals for the family in mourning.

What have we given you, Israel? We who were not born here? We have given you our hearts, we gave up so much to come and received so much more for that decision. We have received a new land, a new language, a place that is more ours than any place else.

 And more, we give you our dedication to deal kindly with others, to bring compassion to our communities. We give you our sons and daughters to defend this land and we give you our words to spread across borders.

Most of all, if we can't give you our past, we have given you our future. We will never be completely fluent; our children will always out-speak us in Hebrew but as we had the courage to leave and come here, we have the courage to live here.

It is our land too.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Funny Side of Islamic Extremism

When crying won't help, sometimes laughing will...

At the end of the tape - only with Hebrew subtitles) - they discover they have gone through the entire thing without is humor...sad and not meant to insult the victims and families of those murdered by these terrorists but oh yes, it is totally supposed to insult the intelligence of the murderers.

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: