Monday, February 27, 2006

Human Beings -A New Definition

I couldn't help but read the blog post "Treat Us Like Jews" by Israel Perspectives . Here is an excerpt:
"...the essence of being a human being is the belief that nothing is sacred, nothing is worth fighting for, nothing is worth sacrificing for and nothing is worth dying for. Everybody has a price. Faith, ideology, and a life lived based on belief and ideals are all admirable, but at the end of the day, those are also for sale - even if it requires paying a hefty sum..."
Well worth reading the entire post (and comments).

Calling A Spade, A Spade!

Natan Sharansky in an interview with the MEQ interview:
"We saw the Soviet Union as a rotten, weak society, liable to fall apart quickly, if only the West stopped supporting it. The first step in the Soviet Union's demise would be the West's enunciation of the true nature of the [Soviet] state. When Ronald Reagan, the leader of the free world, called a spade a spade and defined the roots of the struggle, the Soviet Union was doomed. And that's what happened. The same thing applies today. We are speaking about a struggle between the world in which human life is the highest priority and those societies that treat human life with disdain and hold their citizens hostage in an attempt to blackmail civilization."

How come Israeli's "ruling elite" is so ignorant, when the people with answers are right in front of them!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

if you wish it, it is!

Am I going to be criticised for this .... but if it had not been an Arab that told me this story, I would never have repeated here (or elsewhere).

Many years ago I lived in Kiryat Arba. Several times a week, at the same time each day, I would walk downtown to the Arab Taxi stand and catch a 'Sherut' to Jerusalem. Over several weeks and months I came to know several drivers quite well. We would discuss in Hebrew (and occassionally English) current events, and I would use these conversations as an opportunity to learn about the mind-set and culture of my Arab neighbours.

One day, I really don't remember in reference to what, my favorite "teacher" of Arab culture stopped me in the middle of a question and cried out: "But you don't understand!" When I pressed him, what don't I understand, he explained to me in English, but only after lowering his voice so everyone else in the cab wouldn't hear!. "When I was a boy my grandafther told me a story ..."

Abdul was lying on his hammock trying to take an afternoon siesta when the neighbours children ran into his yard with their games and noisily thwarted his plan. Gruff commands to exile them back to the street where they came from came to nought. Finally Abdul came up with a plan!
"Why are you wating your time playing here when they are giving away dates in the marketplace?" he asked the children?
After a few exchanges of disbelief that grew into acceptance with Abdul's continued insistence, the children raced out of the yard towards the village marketplace.
Leaning back into his hammock to take advantage of the newly acquired quiet, Abdul rests for a moment or two ... till suddenly he jumps out of the hammock, in the direction of the market.
"What an idiot I am, to miss out on free dates ..." he's heard muttering to himself.

My teacher, the driver, clarified the issue as I looked at him, trying to guess the "message" the story was supposed to communicate. "With Arabs, if you wish it, it is!" explains my teacher!

It does not make a difference who destroyed the twin towers in New York or who destroyed the "shrine" in Iraq. If enough muslims agree with Ahmadinejad that the Zionists and the Americans did it, then for them - that is reality!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Modern Golden Calf

I'm certain there are going to be those of you who read this who will scratch their heads: "What took him so long!" None-the-less I feel it is important to go on record that just today, the 23rd of Sh'vat 5766 (02/21/2006) did I finally figure out what the Jewish-Israel argument is all about.

All these thirty five years that I live here in the State of Israel, it was totally understood (by me) that "the State" is a vehicle for the realization of the aspirations of the Jewish People. Somehow it was clear to me that Jews who came here, came because they wanted to live Jewishly in a cultural milieu that was "Jewish" in the Land that was the cradle of Jewish consciousness. Yes I realized there were many differing views of what "Jewish" meant to different people, but somehow I naively believed that there was enough common denominator to provide a basis for all us "Jews" to work together and find a workable modus vivendi.

What apparently has happened is a divergence between those of us who see the State of Israel as a "means" to something greater, and those who have turned the existing reality into an "end-in-itself". Simplistic? Yeah but it works!

The "Israeli"s are very threatened by the idea that we "Jews" are not satisfied with the existing State of Israel, it's institutions (Parliament, Justice System, Law Enforcement Agencies). To the degree that they perceive our growing dissatifaction as a threat, they entrench themselves into positions of defending an obviously deficient if not corrupt system. More over, they actively seek ways of fossilizing the existing system in the hope that this will guarantee its preservation in the face of the demographic threat of the Jews.

On the other hand, as "holy" as the State of Israel may be to the National Religious, they still only see it as a "keli" or instrument. The "holiness" stems not from the instrument itself, but its purpose or ultimate objective. From 'day-one' the religious establishment has seen the existing organisms of the State of Israel as a temporary compromise, with the hope that improvements could be made as things developed. There are no "holy cows" when it comes to the secular institutions of the state!

Ironically it is the Israelis who have 'fossilized' the State and its frameworks into some sort of "Golden Calf" for whom any thought of change, especially democratization and increasing accountability to the electorate and the public is deemed sacrilegious.

It never ceases to amaze me how the imagery and metaphors of Jewish history are often as relevant today as they were millennium ago!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sign Up for Heaven

At the start of the current war of terror I sketched out several fictional scenarios as to how such a war could be waged. One idea was that of multiple suicide bombers blowing themselves at multiple locations disrupting life simultaneously in different locations, and ultimately bringing the civil and military response and health systems to a state of collapse. To accomplish such a feat would require hundreds of suicide bombers, an idea so alien and foreign to me that I totally refused to pursue it. Someone just brought the following old news item to my attention. All of a sudden my wild fictional idea begins looking more and more like a possible nightmarish reality.

Tehran, Iran, Nov. 17 Fifty thousand Iranians have signed up for martyrdom-seeking operations and 1,000 of them have already beeen organizeded into operational units, Mohammad-Ali Samadi, the spokesman for a government-orchestrated campaign to recruit suicide bombers told an Iranian news agency.

Samadi was speaking a day after a rally on Tuesday in the city of Shahroud, north-east Iran, where 1,000 volunteers signed up for suicide attacks against the West and Israel. A video film of the full speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on October 26, in which he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and threatened the leaders of other Muslim countries, was shown to the audience.
My thanks to AbbaGav for the tip.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How Could I Marry You?

I just read a post by a young Ger Tzdek in the New York area that reminded of a story a friend told me when I was in-the-process or shortly afterward.

A young man (non-Jewish) and a young woman (Conservadox) went to public high school together in Windsor in the forties/fifties. As her parents were not pleased they kept their friendship both on a low key and very private. After high school they both, coincidentally, ended up attending Wayne State University across the river. Not surprisingly they car-pooled back and forth for four years and their romance blossomed.

The young girls parents, probably seeing the inevitable, eventually accepted the young man, perhaps initially trying to use their contact to dissuade him, but eventually communicating the message that "if he converted" they'd bless the relationship.

So the young man attended a very unique adult evening school where teachers from all streams of Jewish thought and practice teach. One particular course on Chassidic Thought captured the young man's imagination, and when the teacher offered to sponsor his participation in a summer camp dedicated to intensive learning, the young man jumped at the chance.

Although it upset the plans the young couple had made to spend the summer planning their wedding and future lives, the young woman agreed recognizing that both her parents were pleased at the young man's seriousness in exploring Judaism, and that the issue of conversion would be less problematic with so many teachers providing their support and approbation.

The problems started when, upon returning from the summer camp, which the young man had extended by staying for the second session, he surprising announced that they had to post pone the marriage as he was going to New York to do some further studying before his conversion and their marriage. That fall, the young woman received a heart rendering letter informing her that her childhood sweetheart had decided they shouldn't marry. No return address, no contact information, just a long empty pain filled silence during the winter and spring months.

The following summer, the young woman heard a rumor that her former beau was in town visiting his parents. With a fury and passion that only a woman scorned could muster, the young woman stormed over to the young man's parent's home and confronted him.

"How could you do this to me?" she accused. "Don't I at least deserve an explanation after all those years we went together?" she demanded to know!

Slowly, with every effort to try and answer her challenges without causing further pain or exacerbating the situation, the young man explained: "How could you expect me to marry a girl who was willing to marry a non-Jew?"

Years later I actually met the man in the story, he went on to become a director of Jewish Community Centers in the Detroit area and later elsewhere in the states. That final 'punch line' is one I personally never forgot!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

They had it coming!

In the post-Osama bin Laden and suicide-belt world of our own, we shudder at these fanatical riots, convincing ourselves that perhaps the Salman Rushdies, Theo Van Goghs, and Danish cartoonists of the world had it coming.
I couldn't help myself! As I read these lines from a long article by Victor Davis Hanson titled "Losing Civilization" I had a sense of deja vu. Doesn't this sound eerily similar to "voices" heard in the Jewish community during the rise of Nazism in Europe during the 1930's?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Deeds Speak

From the York Regional Police, Toronto, Canada web site:
"Our motto, "DEEDS SPEAK", is interpreted to mean "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" and serves as an appropriate bridge between a proud past and a bright future. The motto was coined during the War of 1812 by the 3rd York Militia Regiment, in which many of the Home District Constables served. The Home District included today's York Region, and as such, these Constables were the forerunners of our modern day police. "DEEDS SPEAK" serves as the foundation to all our endeavors."

Growing up in Canada, from the youngest age I was taught that whenever I was in distress, lost or threatened, that I should run, not walk, to the nearest Police Officer.

Starting with my very public beating by Ravivo & Chavivion just outside the offices of the Prime Minister of Israel over eleven years ago; and ending with the violent pogrom perpetrated by the current government at Amona on February 1st, 2006 - my Israeli education has taken a different track. With the current case of my thirteen year old son being deliberately framed by a blue uniformed 'Policeman', my family now shuns police the way street-wise New Yorkers probably avoid street-thugs or drug dealers.

Just today I witnessed two violent episodes of Border Police "roughing up" a Jewish youth and later an Arab youth who did not behave to their expectations. When I went over to inquire what seemed to be the problem, the "in-charge" belligerently told me to mind my own business. When I suggested it was the business of every concerned citizen to identify and report unjustified use of violence by the state's police, one of the "policemen" actually raised the butt of his rife as if to threaten me. All this on a very public street corner with hundreds of vehicles passing by, many of them slowing down to gawk, but no one interfered.

Yes Mr. Olmert. Deeds do speak louder than words. A society where the enforcers of "law and order" become a force "above the law", is a society where the only law that really applies is the some sort of Darwinian "Right of the most violent and most cruel and immoral". Welcome to Justice as it is practiced in Israel in the year 2006 / 5766.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Someone Else Who Gets It

There is a powerful short little post on "Solomonia" titled "A Jewish State, or Just a State?" in which Avraham Shmuel Lewin quotes Aaron Klein on being a yarmulke-wearing Jew in Israel.
Asked to explain the institutionalized anti-religious practices he's encountered, Aaron replies, "It's the new nature of the cultural war in Israel. The great divide used to be the so-called right wing versus the so-called left wing. Essentially, whether or not to give up land to the Palestinians. Now the mask is coming off and the real battle is starting to be waged openly – religious nationalism versus anti-religious post-Zionism.

"More simply, is Israel supposed to be a Jewish state based on religious ideals or will it be a state like all others that just happens to be comprised mostly of Jews? At its core, it is what all the land withdrawals and proposed land withdrawals are about, and it's what my 'yarmulke problems' are about. That is the fight I am witnessing here. The victor will determine the future of Israel and the Jewish people."...
Well worth reading in its entirety!

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Someone once said that you know a good idea when a lot of other people (independently) arrive at the same conclusion at the same time! Check out the following site to see how other people are responding to the events at Amona on February 1st 2006, the 3rd of Shevat 5766.

If you agree that "something" must be done to respond, subscribe to this site's notifications and contribute your thoughts. Together we can hopefully influence all concerned and encourage positive outcomes rather than further escalation.

Jewish Response

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The One Man in Amona Who Did Not Lift a Single Stone

This is a man who served night and days for years on Israel's borders, dealing with the enemies of Israel in order that the thugs that did this to him could grow up in safety & security. Why does he look like this?

And if he looks like this, it means that there are many others with head and body wounds who did nothing to deserve the beatings they received from Israel's "finest".

For those who do not recognize him,
the photo is of Efi (Fine) Eitam,
former commander of Israel's Givati Regiment.

[Thanks to Nitzan Or on for the idea]

The Ultimate Protest

As I read the various articles and the many comments it is becoming clear. The ultimate protest against a society or a system that refuses to permit real representation in the political process is initially violence, and eventually total and "disengagement".

People ask me: "Are you for real? Israel, the shining example of 'Democracy in the Middle East' does not permit 'real representation' in the poltical process?" Yes! Please check out in the section 'Orange:Politics'. The members of the political parties sitting in Israel's parliament do not represent the people who voted for them, but the 'Central Committee' members who selected them. Israel's parliamentarians are not accountable to any constituency of citizens, but to power brokers and money men who run Israel's political parties. This is not represntative democracy, but the illusion of democracry.

The poltical process has become more and more openly alientated from the values the State of Israel was established to realize. The courts and security agencies have become more and more instruments of anti-Jewish values determined to destroy the religious sector before they numerically become the dominate the public life of the state. Where else can idealists turn if not to the barricades?

But what happens when even the most determined protest is met by implacable forces bent on not only meeting but breaking their opponents. What happens when the 'opponent' has almost total control of not only the decision making process, the courts but also the public arena where only they can broadcast and publish? What then? It appears that the "court of last appeal" is simply to "dissengage". Here are two responses to the traumatic events of yesterday:

[Comment to article in Jerusalem Post] Perhaps Olmert will succeed in pulling in votes, but in the end this behaviour will result in the much bigger tradgedy. I am not even talking about Jew killing a Jew in the next evacuation or rise of the anti government armed resistance movement. Trdgedy is in the decline in Jewish immigration to Israel. It was my family's dream for the past 6 years to move to Israel. We both have degrees, my children are 2,4 and 6. We are not ultraorthodox, but religious. Intefadah did not scare us, bombs, arabs, terror did not scare us. The latest barbaric acts of Israeli government scared us. Government elected by MAJORITY of Israelis! Why should we go? To be told that settlements is our future one day and to be beaten and kicked out the next day? To pay taxes for the PA bombs? To be humiliated by fellow Jews? Out of some 25 families that were planning to move only 2 went.

[Except of article in Arutz 7] Erin Sternberg, formerly the spokesperson for Gush Katif, calls for a moratorium on serving in the IDF. Only drastic actions like this will deliver the necessary message without violence, a message worth a thousand roof-top protests.

At this moment in time, still trying to cope with the trauma my children and I are experiencing I tend to agree with the above sentiments.

  • If every potential immigrant to Israel, [who probably is thinking of living in Israel because they want to live full Jewish lives in the Land of Israel, not because they are looking for a "progressive Western democracy"] was to communicate their decision to put their plans on hold until the State of Israel changed it anti-Jewish policies ...
  • If every potential donor to an agency encouraged by the State of Israel was to communicate their decision to withold future donations until they see a serious effort to embrace true dialog and seek rapproachment between the growing polarized segments of Israeli society ...
  • If every potential tourist was to communicate their decision to postpone future visits to Israel as long as the Israeli Police proactively use violence to resolve political dissagreements ...

I truly believe that the only thing the Israeli elite respects is to be found outside the borders of our tiny country. Be it public opinion, financial support or political support. The citizens of their country were never respected. Every time the Left lost an election you would hear Yossi Sarid, Shulamit Aloni or Shimeon Peres bemoaning how the [stupid] people don't know what is good for them. In every forum you can hear the head of Isael's Supreme Court explain how the court has to defend [it's interpetation of] democracry from the people of Israel, who Ahron Barak explains, came from countries with no democratic tradition and hence don't understand democracry.

It is pretty clear what my options are. What are you going to do about what is going on here in Israel?

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

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