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David is a man of faith; he believes that the Jewish people are realizing their destiny though Zionism, ...Read more
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A few weeks ago, I wrote a response to a provocative pro-Israel OpEd that was published on an anti-Zionist website. After consulting with some wise friends, I decided to place my response on hold and not publish it because the response, by its nature, would provide more attention to the piece that it was referring to, when I would rather that it just disappear, less noticed, in the flow of information being posted on the web.
The author of the piece I am referring to is a friend and a colleague, and one whom I would like to think shares common goals and core values. Inevitably, the offensive OpEd piece has rolled down the time-line and I doubt that it is fresh in anyone's memory. Had I published my comments then, there is a good chance that it would have opened a discussion and raked in more popularity.
So why, you might ask, am I bringing this up now? Subsequently, the author of this piece went on to produce a YouTube spoof of an American popular recording artist. My feelings about the video, like the OpEd before it, were ambivalent. On one hand, I am glad to see Jews making a clear and eloquent argument for Zionism. I also appreciate the perspectives of people who see things from different angles than my own.
But now, as a second YouTube video spoof has been launched, a realization of what is so wrong with these productions is becoming clear to me. Zionism, for me, is about restoring the dignity of the Jewish people. The basis of our rights to freedom, safety and self determination do not come from Thomas Jefferson and the U.S. Constitution, nor do they have any affiliation with some musical striptease artist from MTV.
The Jewish people are a holy nation with a rich and ancient history and culture. The public relations concept that calls for re-branding Israel using cold beer and beautiful girls in bikinis on the beaches of Tel Aviv is self defeating and degrading to our heritage.
We did not gather from four corners of the earth and fight endless wars for the right to be a cheap imitation of America here in the middle of the desert in the Middle East. I do not believe that showing Jewish women's bare skin is going to convince the nations of the world that we have a right to the land that the IDF captured in 1967. But I do have reason to believe that our expression of our loss of traditional values and our imports of the American culture of permissiveness are a big part of what scares our neighbors and leads them to mistakenly conclude that Zionism is a front for western imperialism.
Please do not make that mistake. The Jewish people have returned to our homeland in order to fulfill an historic calling: to be a light unto the nations - a people with values worth imitating. Our mission is not to be a Hebrew speaking, gun-toting western society with no values. That, we could do in Los Angeles.
So, with great appreciation for your good intentions and creativity, I request that you put your clothes back on and preach a message that we can all take pride in.
We have already lost count of the number of times that US Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Israel over the past few months. Is it ten or eleven times? Israeli patriots resent the intensive American pressure coming from the Obama administration to force Israel into yet another agreement with the PLO. Twenty years into the failed Oslo Accords, the dreamy ideologues still refuse to face the facts and acknowledge that this course for "peace" was built entirely on false assumptions.
The PLO leadership makes no effort to hide the fact that they refuse to recognize any right of the Jewish people to a state of their own. Actually, they don't even acknowledge the Jews as a people at all, but rather as a religion that does not require a state - and surely not on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, in any case.
Kerry's stated goal for this shuttle diplomacy is to see a final agreement between Israel and the PLO within months, but calling his conduct "diplomacy" is questionable; it is really more like an arm twisting campaign.
"The US' careless policies in other MENA situations over the past two years should raise major concerns"The question that all local players should be asking is: “On what basis does the US administration flash around their 'wisdom' on how things should be done in this region?” If you examine the seemingly endless list of American fiascoes in MENA, Bengazi, Egypt and Syria, not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan, you will notice that US policy hasn't recently provided any positive accomplishments to point to or uphold as winning concepts to copy.
America's strongest argument is “Well, we have a lot of money to flash around...” But is that still really the case? With the USA now in debt 17 trillion dollars to China and still counting, maybe the time has come for MENA countries to start to face east and ignore the obnoxious pressure from the western countries that can hardly pay their own bills.
Secretary Kerry's arrogance and unconcern for the people who live here has been exposed in new dimensions, as reported by Maariv's Shalom Yerushalmi. He shares his personal experience of being one of hundreds of Jerusalem drivers forced to wait in their cars at police roadblocks set up in Jerusalem to provide clear passage for Kerry on his return from Ramallah to Jerusalem in the first hours of the worst snow storm to hit this region in the past one hundred and fifty years.
Ultimately, the heavy snow locked many cars on the highway and made it impossible for the city's limited snow plows to access and clear the roads. These cars lay stuck in the middle of the road until after the snow storm on Sunday, four days later. Drivers had no choice but to abandon their cars and attempt to reach their homes by other means.
Kerry's insistence on coming here uninvited again and again, with no regard for the discomfort that this causes to the local population is a microcosm of the current US administration's disregard for the well-being of our local population. In addition, the US' careless policies in other MENA situations over the past two years should raise major concerns for our regional leaders, whom the Americans are trying to push around.
In a region with about 8 months of summer and barely enough days of rain to provide the water needed for consumption by the local population, it is not unusual for the rabbis to call on the public to add special prayers for rain. On this issue, the secular seem to appreciate the efforts of the observant. When the rain finally does make its debut, the Israeli public reacts as if our national soccer team won the World Cup.
That being said, snow is a very exciting prospect for Israelis. It is pretty rare, only coming around for about one brief snow day every three years. Some holds on in the towns on mountain tops, like Jerusalem, Tzfat and the communities in Judea and Samaria.
The kids, of course, wait with great anticipation for the snow. Truth be told, it's not just the kids. When it does snow, Israelis from the seashore areas go on pilgrimages to the hills to see the phenomenon for themselves.
From the beginning of last week, the weatherman said that a big storm was on its way, but even with advance warning, it seems that Israel was not ready for what it was about to experience. Thursday brought cold and heavy rain all day. Kids stood by the windows for hours, examining the drops of rain to determine if they might really be snow in disguise. When it got late and the snow hadn't yet covered the ground, my little ones refused to go to sleep, in case the snow might fall and not wait for morning. I assured them that if the snow did show up during the night, it would still be there in the morning. At about that time, a bit of snow did begin falling, mixed with the cold rain. We all bundled up and went to sleep. In the middle of the night, I realized that the whole town was in total darkness. We had lost our connection to the main electrical grid.
By Friday morning, the Shomron was covered in snow. Our electricity, phones and Internet were down. We got ready for Shabbat by cooking on the gas stove and using snow to keep our food cold. With no electricity to keep the refrigerator working, I collected some pots of snow to keep the fridge cold, too.
Hot water for showers before Shabbat was not available. We lit a lot of candles, had early Erev Shabbat services at the main synagogue with all of our neighbors who had chosen to stay home and not seek refuge with family or friends in the lower Tel Aviv region.
Our family had the Shabbat meal by candlelight, as the electric company had not succeeded in getting the lights back on before Shabbat. Later on that night, a generator was trucked in to provide for many but not all of the families in their homes, but we still had no street lights, no phone lines and no Internet.
Over Shabbat, our community was totally isolated. An army helicopter landed to evacuate a baby with pneumonia and a woman giving birth. Almost 50 members of our extended family gathered in our home to spend the day of Shabbat together and share the warmth. Nieces, nephews and in-laws were happy to know that everyone here was alright, but we all remained concerned for family members who live at more distant locations - on the hilltops of Itamar and elsewhere. They were totally cut off from all utilities and communication until Sunday morning. Our communities are still not back on the main electrical grid and our phone lines are still down.
On one hand, it is shocking to realize that a flash of bad weather can close down the entire region of Judea and Samaria and the capital, Jerusalem, for the better part of three days. But considering that the last time the region experienced such a bad storm was some 150 years ago, how well prepared can the authorities be?
We appreciate all of the workers from the electric company, the regional municipalities, the IDF and the emergency agencies who are working tirelessly around the clock, out in the thick of this harsh weather, to do their best to provide solutions for the people suffering. It is really amazing how Israel's society mobilizes to help in situations such as these.
In our town, we have a volunteer committee called "Tzachi", which takes upon itself to deal specifically with emergency situations within the community. With great efficiency, they managed to map out who was here and what type of assistance was required. A friend from outside the community volunteered his bulldozer to clear away snow and provide access to roads within the town.
Personally, as a dad, I am very proud of my son, Yair-Macabee who was sent with his IDF unit to Jerusalem in the thick of the storm and went knocking on doors from home to home, to make sure that civilians there had the basics to make it through this freezing cold weekend.
The Speech I Would Like to Hear as Binyamin Netanyahu Addresses the United Nations General Assembly.
Leaders of the nations of the world, I address you today in New York just days after the Jewish people commemorated 5774 years since God’s creation of this world. The nation of Israel has a long and rich history. Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, our fathers, walked the land of Israel and heard the divine promise that this land would be the inheritance of their sons forever. Our mighty kings David and Solomon ruled over the land with the wisdom of the Torah as their guide. Our great Temple stood as the central focus of Jerusalem and was the place where the entire nation of Israel would gather three times each year for the festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.
Nearly 2000 years ago, our country was overrun by Roman imperialism when the conquering Romans, out of hate and envy, destroyed our Temple and holy capital city of Jerusalem and banished our fathers from the land.
The Jewish people spread to the four corners of the globe, where they have been hosted by almost each and every one of the lands represented here. Often, that hospitality was not kind, and at times it became outright oppressive. Living or dying with inquisitions and pogroms became part of the stateless reality for the Jewish people. But we never gave up hope for a return to our homeland. From those same four corners of the earth, Jews have faced Jerusalem three times daily to pray that HaShem, the God of Israel, would have mercy on His nation and gather us back to our homeland. Over the past hundred years, the world has witnessed a unique and amazing phenomenon - the gathering of a nation and its re-establishment as a country and culture in its historic homeland. Against all odds, the nation of Israel was reborn. Our prayers have been answered; a Jewish flag flies over a Jewish parliament in the Jewish capital, protected by a Jewish army.
I am aware that there are some people who are not happy about Israel existing as a Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jews. To those, all I can say is “too bad, I realize that you can’t make everyone happy.” Our response to that will be to continue to do the best we can in all fields. There is much benefit that the international community could derive by learning from Israel. Due to our poor relationships with our neighbor states, we have had no choice but to be outstanding in developing defense systems, but we also excel in high tech and medicine. Although we are a tiny country, we make an effort to provide medical assistance to other peoples in need and are quick to offer emergency relief at times of crisis. In spite of the above-mentioned strained relations with our neighbors, many, many Arabs have still received first rate medical care in Israeli hospitals. These include hundreds of Syrian civilians hurt in the ongoing civil war there, as well as many thousands of Palestinians from Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
By the way, I must express my great gratitude to HaShem, the God of Israel, who has given us the ability to again be an independent nation standing on our own ground. In 1967, the heartland, Judea and Samaria - with Jerusalem in its center - again came under Israeli rule. So it shall be: Israel will never leave those lands again. Judea and Samaria will always be a part of the State of Israel on the same standing with the Galil and Negev. Jerusalem is our capital - the center of our nation.
We extend a hand in peace to our neighbors. Normal relations would benefit all sides. We would be glad to use our technology for the benefit of the entire region. Israel is a world leader in recycling water. In agriculture, we are currently using 70% water that has been purified and re-used for irrigation. In a dry desert region with water resources becoming scarce, it is a shame not to be able to share the wisdom that we have gained from experience.
But on the other hand, I must point out to those who breathe hate and speak of annihilating the Jewish state and hurting our people wherever they might be, that Israel has a very long arm and a finger that is always on the trigger. The Torah teaches us that if one rises to kill you, you should kill him first. If pressed against the wall, you know that we will always shoot first and ask questions later.
To this gathering, the UNGA, I must be frank: you have failed too many times in your mission to protect those in need. Your impotence in the Syrian situation is embarrassing. Still, as in years past, you tend to focus too much of your effort on criticizing Israel. I am sorry to have to say this to your faces, but there is an abundance of hypocrisy in this organization. Human rights in many of your countries are lacking. Clean up your own ship before you send mock flotillas to the people of Gaza. With all your talk of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, you fail to explain how the Palestinians under Israeli control have a longer life expectancy than citizens of many Arab countries. For 70 years, you have cultivated the myth of millions of Palestinian refugees, while you ignore one million Jews who were expelled from Arab lands in the first decade of Israel’s existence. Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees with no help from the Arab world, who ran them out and exploited the properties and wealth they left behind. The Arab world must recognize and allow those who have lived in their countries - and surely those who were born in them - to integrate and become citizens of those countries.
As I now return to my home, I call on all international leaders to come meet me in Israel and to establish proper diplomatic relations - starting with maintaining your country’s embassy in our capital - Jerusalem.
Real life in Israel seems to be notifying The Onion news agency that they are not ridiculous enough to be considered original satire.
See it for yourself in a YouTube video filmed this week in Jerusalem. A Jewish man is stopped by the police for carrying a couple of small branches and a citrus fruit. The police officer promptly confiscates the handful of branches and calls for reinforcements while refusing to explain to the man why or under what law they have been taken.
On this one I'll leave the commentary to the comment section. You tell me what you make of this event, and if it makes any sense to you? Can you guess where this took place?