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      Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, her son Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier’s Mother. The blog continues as Elie begins Reserve Duty and her son Shmulik is now a soldier. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish.

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      Sivan 29, 5771, 7/1/2011

      Personal Message to Hedy Epstein Aboard the Flotilla

      My message to Hedy Epstein as she sails to Gaza:

      Your participation, in the flotilla brings shame to you and worse is a betrayal of your family, those that died in Auschwitz. It is hard to comprehend how distorted your view of life, of Judaism, and of Israel must be to bring you to the point that you sail against your own people. Yes, you’ll say you sail for human rights, for humanity and some such nonsense but last year’s flotilla – and very likely this one, displayed the worst of humanity.

      There is no humanitarian crisis – so says the Red Cross just two months ago. What arrogance you have to think you know better. You, who make your life in America, dare to tell us how we should live in this land, in this area.
      Had there been an Israel when your family was taken to Auschwitz, Israel would have saved them – as we have saved Jews all over the world. No, we are not going to be victims ever again, nor are we interested in making the Palestinians victims.

      We have offered peace time and time again, only to be met with violence. You are not interested in the 14,000 rockets fired at Israel, that’s fine. Clearly, you only use your earlier association with the Jewish people to get yourself headlines and attention. You use your label as “survivor” to betray those who died, while you were blessed enough to survive.

      I believe that there is a “next life,” a time that we answer for what we have done in this life – for the good and for the bad. At the gates of this next life, your parents, grandparents, all those you left behind in Auschwitz will stand there.

      As a Jew, as an Israeli, I am deeply ashamed of you and believe you have betrayed all that they died for. I have little doubt you will rationalize this away as something honorable, it isn’t; as something brave, it isn’t. There was a reason why your parents worked so hard to get you on that children’s transport that saved your life…whatever that reason was – it was not so you could betray the people they were, the religion they held.

      Shame on you, Hedy Epstein and may your parents find comfort not in you, but in so many of the other children who survived as you did – but who came to live in Israel to build it, not to destroy it; to honor it, not to betray it. Indeed, Hedy Epstein – shame on you.

      Background information on Hedy Epstein

      According to her website, Hedy Epstein calls herself a "Holocaust survivor and a speaker." She was born in 1924 in Germany; she was an only child. She was lucky - she was one of those fortunate enough to be part of the children's transport - she escaped Nazi Germany among the 500 children that managed to get out.

      Her parents were killed by the Nazis. The last message she got from her mother was in 1942 - it said, "Traveling to the east...sending you a final goodbye." How Hedy got from that child to where she is now, is hard to explain but where she is now is on the Flotilla heading towards Gaza to show her support.

      She is the perfect prop for the flotilla organizers - the Jew...no, better, the Holocaust survivor. She abuses the memory of her parents and all who died by comparing Israeli soldiers to the Nazis.

      There are no gas chambers in Gaza, Hedy Epstein; there are no concentration camps. Palestinians are not rounded up and shot simply for being born Palestinians. I recall no instances of Jewish children being taken into Nazi hospitals for treatment as Palestinian children are regularly assisted.

      Hedy Epstein was lucky enough to escape, while 6 million did not. Sadly, she uses and abuses that "title" of survivor to her personal advantage - again and again.

      Sivan 27, 5771, 6/29/2011

      Why Israel MUST Stop the Flotilla

      Sivan 26, 5771, 6/28/2011

      The Flotilla, @Farah961, and the Palestinian Lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Iyar 25, 5771, 5/29/2011

      Whose Land is it Anyway?

      There is politics, and then there is dirty politics. There are promises made, and broken, on a regular basis when it comes to the world of negotiation, national, and international relations. And yet a recent incident should cause outrage because it deals not with promises, but with manipulation; not with honest negotiation but with deceit and pressure on an ally. Perhaps even, it dips into the decidedly dirty field of spying. 

      Decades ago, Israeli governments started promising that the city of Maale Adumim could build on land that was to be known as Mevasseret Adumim.Perhaps you may recognize it as E1, another name written on a map that does nothing to give a real picture of what is there...and what is not. 

      The real picture is the one you see here - of barren mountains that no one ever settled. This is not an Arab village that was destroyed, but the natural growth of a beautiful city that makes the desert bloom. There on the right, you can see the edge of Maale Adumim as it exists today; and there on the left, the barren hilltop of Mevasseret Adumim.  

      Mevasseret Adumim, like all of Maaleh Adumim, was uninhabited before Israelis started coming to build, plant and develop it. Peace Now once claimed that 60% was owned by Palestinians - nonsense! 

      They eventually backed down to 0.05% and even there they lack proof for that number.  Palestinians once went to the Jordanians to claim the land - the Jordanian courts denied their claim, confirming that the area was state-owned land captured from the Ottoman Empire, mandated by the British, held by the Jordanians, and then conquered and settled by Israel. It is one physical hilltop over from Jerusalem – the only one between the capital of Israel and its suburb, Maale Adumim. Today, Maale Adumim is a sprawling city of close to 45,000 people, perched on several hilltops overlooking Jerusalem to the west and the Dead Sea to the east.   It has several large commercial centers including a three story mall, several post offices, many schools for all ages, large recreation areas, a city library, an emergency medical center, ambulance and fire fighting squads that respond not only to the cities needs, but to emergencies that happen for miles all around. According to successive Israeli governments, the borders of Maale Adumim include not only the built-on areas, but several surrounding hills. 

      This is true of many cities in Israel and is how Israeli cities are designed. First the borders of the municipality are drawn; then they begin developing each area.  One has only to travel next to the city of Modiin, for example, to see that the city is in a constant state of growth. So much so, that its residents joke that the city bird is the “crane” for all the massive building cranes that hover over the city. 

      Like Modiin, Maale Adumim has long been a gathering point for people who want to live near the great city of Jerusalem but welcome the more rural, suburban atmosphere. In fact, the borders of Maale Adumim actually touch the edges of Jerusalem itself – and herein lies the controversy.  On the last remaining hilltop between Maale Adumim, Arabs have decided to feel threatened. After thirty years of building, this last hilltop represents the end for them and so they virulently condemn it and threaten violence. In their eyes, building of this one last hill will remove their chances of destroying Maale Adumim itself. Successive American governments have admitted that Maale Adumim will never be evacuated, cannot in any practical way be obliterated, nor should it. Even President Obama admits that adjustments such as including Maale Adumim, must be made for any long term peace agreement to be successful.  

       And again, we have reached the crux of the matter because what almost every Israeli knows, though not all are willing to admit it – the Palestinian leadership is not interested in a long-term peace agreement. At most, they want hudna – a 10 year cease-fire that their religion allows them to break at any point if it is made with a non-Muslim entity (such as Israel).    

      Generations have been born on this land. What might have been had the Palestinians accepted the Partition Plan in 1947 or not instigated war after war is irrelevant. The simple fact is that no Israeli government will ever agree to remove close to 50,000 citizens spread over many kilometers from homes and neighborhoods that have grown and prospered for almost 4 decades. There were no houses, no Arab villages on the hills of Maale Adumim before it was built, nor will there ever be in the future. A few days ago, frustrated by the lack of progress and the ongoing broken promises of many governments, some people from Maale Adumim decided to begin building the neighborhood of Mevasseret Adumim on E1 with their own hands. More symbolic than real, this was a message to the Israeli government that it was time to move forward. 

      The plans for this neighborhood were submitted and approved long ago – a guest house, hundreds of apartments, affordable housing for young couples. Instead, only a police station and some roads have been built there. You can agree or disagree with the unilateral action, though unilateral actions such as the withdrawal from Gaza, the recent opening of the Rafiah border by the Egyptians and the promised declaration of a Palestinian state in September seem to be much more controversial than a dozen teenagers erecting some tents in the middle of an area long since declared as a Jewish neighborhood. What is more interesting and telling, however, is the reaction of the American government and more the actions of the US Consulate in Jerusalem. American officials arrived to review what the teenagers had built. 

      They took pictures, lied about who they were, though they were stupid enough to arrive in vehicles registered to the US Consulate and did nothing to hide their true identities. A short time later, Israeli security forces arrived to destroy the temporary structures they had built. This is not unexpected and is yet another step in the “game” played by those who wish to make a statement and those who wish to stop them. More sinister, however, is the American visit to the area. 

      Why did they come there? Why were they taking pictures? Why did they lie about who they were? What business is this lone mountain to these American officals? For the American government, there are questions to be answered – what legal right did they have to visit that location? One wonders how the American government would feel if Israelis started visiting controversial sites in the US in the middle of a sensitive situation? Doesn’t this amount to spying on an ally and trying to influence its internal affairs? 

      Whose land is it, anyway? For the Israeli government, they should be calling in the US Ambassador to Israel and demanding an explanation. That it fails to do this, suggests the visit was in some way approved, or at very least influential in getting the police to come and disrupt what had been done. One cannot call the police visit so shortly after the American visit a coincidence. Surely , the Israeli government has not outsourced the job of inspecting our land to the Americans, has it? Does the American Consulate now have the right to dictate how the Israeli government treats its citizens and when it chooses to handle internal matters? For all Israelis, this is a wake-up call. Big Brother Obama is watching and wants us to know it. It is the Obama government’s way of putting pressure on all of us, trying to make us believe that which we know is not true. 

      The future of this land does not rest in Washington’s hands, nor those of the American Consulate. No matter how much they demand it, peace cannot be granted by the threats and blackmail of a line drawn in the sand. What were the Americans doing there? 

      Why did they come and feel comfortable enough to make their presence obvious? Why did they take pictures? What have they done with them? Why did they feel it necessary to claim they were the police? Those are questions the Netanyahu government must answer. This is an outrage that every Israeli should feel. We are a sovereign nation, not a puppet of Washington. 

      Those Americans had no business trespassing on land allocated to Maale Adumim in an attempt to influence how and when our government would react. The message to the Americans must be clear: it is NOT your place, not your land, not your plan that will bring peace because the dancing partner you have chosen for us is busy dancing with Hamas. 

      The message must be made clear to the Netanyahu government: if you are not strong enough to answer the Americans and handle their pressure, you have no business leading this land. 

      Whose land is it anyway? Every day, as the community in Maale Adumim grows and supports those who stay on E1, we answer that question loudly and clearly.   

      Nissan 28, 5771, 5/2/2011

      Osama Bin Laden is Dead - Three Truths

      That is a message we have all been expecting for almost 10 years. In some ways, his future was signed on September 11, 2001, every bit as much as the people he murdered. I got the message on my phone, as I do many messages, and wondered, as I often do, if the information was accurate. I see on various sites that this has been reported elsewhere and so I will tell you the three thoughts, the three truths that came to mind as I read the message.

      One thought the world will probably not notice; the second, they will learn with great sadness; and the third, the world will never admit.

      The first is that while Americans and most people the world over will sigh with relief, there will be no dancing in the streets. No one will hand out candies and there will be no great celebrations. Americans understand, as we do, that those who were murdered 10 years ago in the World Trade Center, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon do not return. Evil has been eliminated, but the good and the righteous cannot return.

      The second great truth is that for each one Osama bin Laden that dies, five more will come to replace him. Perhaps ten, perhaps more. This is another truth the world will know, though now it is too painful to believe. There is a culture of suicide bombers, of hatred, martyrdom, and death. These are the world of Hassan Nassralah, not me. He admits that his people love death and he believes that he will defeat the Jews, and in his mind the west as well because we...and you...love life. We love our children, we love our freedom. He sees this as our greatest weakness, never understanding it is truly our strength and all that we are.

      But others, like bin Laden, like Nassralah, like Saddam Hussein, like Gaddafi and Bashar Assad...others will rise up and continue. It is a matter of culture, this great divide, a matter of belief and yes, religion.

      And the third great truth is that what begins in Israel, too often comes to the world. This was true of the suicide bombers that began with buses in Jerusalem, malls in Tel Aviv, and innocents all over our country, and led to 9/11, Madrid, Bali, London. And this is true of the nuclear threat we face from Iran today.

      Osama bin Laden is dead. No the world is not a better place today, but perhaps for a short time, we can hope that his death has granted life to what would have been his future victims.

      Above all truths is that above all of us, there is a God who watches over, who determines the paths of all of us, our futures and those that we love. He controls all and He will determine all.

      Today, a great evil has been removed. For that, we can be grateful. We will not celebrate death - it is not our way but we can sigh in relief...until those that will come to replace him begin their work. And in the future, those truths will again come to that final of truths because, as a young Holocaust victim wrote in her diary long ago, good will triumph over evil. Anne Frank went to her death still believing in the essential good of mankind.

      Today, while much of the world discusses Osama bin Laden, Israel will stand for two minutes of silence and remember another great evil and his victims.

      May God bless the memories of those who were murdered by this man, this evil, this culture of death. May the families find comfort that now Osama bin Laden will meet his True Judge and true justice for all the days of eternity, he will pay for each precious life he stole, each family he devastated.

      May God bless the memories of those who were murdered in the Holocaust by Adolf Hitler and those evil ones who served him and his culture of hatred and death. May the families of those who survived find comfort that as Osama bin Laden now begins his eternal suffering, Adolf Hitler and countless others remain in the hell they deserve.

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