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      by Tamar Yonah
      A biting & sometimes humorous analysis of current events, Israeli politics & the Jewish World.
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      Tamar Yonah is one of Israel's most popular English-speaking radio show hosts. She made Aliyah from Southern California and after serving in the Israeli army began a prolific career in radio, including production, news and program development. She was the original creator and producer of 'The Aliyah Show' and still works whenever she can in that field. Tamar is a political activist, wife and mother residing in Judea and Samaria and currently hosts the top-rated shows of The Weekend Edition & The Tamar Yonah Show. Her award winning blog covers current events, religion, politics and anything else that's on her mind.

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      Elul 7, 5767, 8/21/2007

      When I'm Drowning

      by Tamar Yonah

      Gasping for air, and trying to swim above the waves to shore.  But the shore is a hundred miles away, and I don't possibly have the strength to swim that far.  Deeper and deeper I sink.  But then,,,

      Sometimes life seems to be TOO BIG.  It is also gets fouled up because other people live in my world, and I can't control them.  In fact, it seems that they control me, or at least, they easily could, ... if I let them.

      I am a simple person, a simple Jew.  I live in a regular house, and have a regular day like any one else on this planet.  I get up, daven (pray) go to work, come home, eat, do some housework and cooking (ok, not enough of it) and go back to the computer to work.  I like to joke that I am intravenously hooked up to my pc.  But if you asked my kids where 'eema' (mother) spends most of her time, their answer will unanimously be, "in front of the computer".  Thank G-d my kids are older and I can do what I do today.  I was always a 'stay at home mom' before.

      Pulling back a bit out of this inner circle, we have the wider 'doings of the world' going on.  Our prime minister is currently negotiating Jerusalem away, while other Knesset members are working on bringing in NATO and other foreign troops and observers to Israel.  My colleagues are being hassled by the police for their right wing activities and their love of the Land of Israel.  President Bush, with Condi Rice want us to make a terror state here, near my home, inside tiny Israel.  In order to do that, they want to kick me and my husband and children out of our house. They want to destroy my community and many more like it. 

      One can go crazy and pull their hair out of their head if they carried this burden on their shoulders.  And sometimes, one can feel that they are drowning.  Whenever I get that gasp-y feeling, I remind myself that G-d is in control of the world.  A good generic prayer for people to say when they find themselves drowning is the Serenity Prayer.



      Can I control what the 'biggie politicians' in power are doing?  No.
      Have we not made the biggest demonstrations in the history of Israel?  Yes. Consistently at that?  Yes.
      Did it help stop the expulsion from Gush Katif?  No.
      Will it stop Olmert and Peres from their 'peace plans'? No.

      So what can I do about it?
      The only thing I can, and do, do, is remember the serenity prayer and then go on with my day.  I continue to daven (pray), do mitzvoth, contribute to the population and dwell in YESHA, work, shop for food, send my kids to school, speak out against the evil in the world, and try to tell others to look under the surface in order not to act like 'sheeple' (sheep to the slaughter).  There are too many of us who have become 'sheeple'.  We don't think anymore, we just absorb whatever TV or our particular culture spews at us.  It's easier not to think.  We don't like the idea that we are being screwed by those with power?  Then just label it 'conspiracy theory', and then you don't have to think about it.  baaaahhhh  baaaahhhh goes the lamb.

      What's hard is listening to conspiracy theories, and then checking them out, no matter how uncomfortable, and THEN coming to a conclusion.  Some will turn out as a definite possibility, and some will remain just plain 'for the paranoid'.

      Why do I do it?  Why do I give time to whistle blowers and people who claim they have information and the 'dirt' of what is happening in the world? 

      My father was a holocaust survivor.  He remembers when he was a boy growing up in Poland and they heard about Hitler coming in to take over.  His father thought about leaving Europe and going to the Land of Israel where they had purchased property. He would give up his textile factory in Lodz, and flee to Israel with his family.  His neighbors told him, "What?  You are a 40 year old man.  You are going to leave and give up your whole livelihood here in Poland?  You worked so hard for all you have! The war will last 6 months, and then the Allied forces will come in and liberate Poland. You'll see."  they told him.   ...And so my grandfather stayed.  He ignored 'conspiracy theories' about a Jewish genocide, as did the rest of European Jewry.  Reports filtering out of gas chambers, ovens for burning bodies, and that work camps weren't really work camps, but were 'death camps' weren't believed.  I mean, who ever heard of such a thing?  The Germans were a CULTURED people, the most cultured in all of Europe.  They would never, no-- they COULD never do such a  a thing.  ...And look what happened.

      My grandfather was ultimately beaten to death by Nazi soldiers.  They took him in and tortured him, punching one of his lungs out. The Nazis were told by an informant that my grandfather had expensive materials that had come in on a shipment before Poland was occupied. The shipment contained materials worth tens of thousands of dollars. After finding the materials, they interrogated and beat him once again, demanding more.  He died from the beatings.  Before he died, he looked at his family, my grandmother, and his two sons: my father and his older brother.  He said to them, "I'm sorry. I'll never see you grow up.  I'm so sorry we didn't leave when we had the chance".  He died soon after.

      And so I listen.  A lot of conspiracy theories are hard to accept, because I am a rational person, I come from an academic family filled with scientists.  And also, I  don't WANT to believe much of the evil that exists in the world. It's too depressing.  But, I am open to listening and want to be informed of what some people think.  Then, I check the data for myself .  After checking out the subject, looking at both sides of the story, (fair and balanced) I come to an educated conclusion.  Some conspiracy claims I can accept as a very good possibility to be true. Others, after checking up on it, I will reject.  However, I usually try to bring different speakers to the show to present to you, the listeners, and then open the phones for you to agree, disagree, comment, etc.  Then you can make up YOUR own minds.  I won't tow the line of ignoring information just because the mainstream news companies would rather show you the latest antics of Paris Hilton.  I don't need ratings.  I do need to serve HaShem.

      I got a phone call from my neighbor.  He was freaking out, asking what we were going to do, and do I think we will be thrown out of our homes by Bush, Olmert and Peres.  I told him that our leaders are trying to work towards that reality, however, the best thing for him to do is to say the Serenity Prayer. What one has the power to do, we do.  What one doesn't have power over, we should recognize that, and then do the things we CAN do.  Daven (pray), prepare for the future as best we can, do good deeds, and cry out to Hashem.  I am not going to leave my home because Bush, Olmert or Peres are 'stronger' than I am.  I work for G-d, not the Government. 

      So when i feel like I am drowning, I grab the life preserver - Torah, its teachings, and my service for HaShem.  In the meantime I am here, I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, living and bringing up my family here in Israel, building YESHA, and serving G-d as best I can.  What more is there?