Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Learning to Live with Terrorism

In the last few days, as Israel has been hit with a wave of terror, I've started to write many times and each time, was only able to capture a fraction of what is on my mind and in my heart. To some extent, feelings are so fleeting, despair so deep, that you realize you can't capture it and you give up. In each half-finished post (or less or more), there is an element I want to share...and then, I get to a point and realize I can't. I can't really explain. I have another thought and so am starting that post but rather than let all these go...I'm going to publish them as they are...unfinished, unedited...unsure. Here's one:

(P.S. You'll see this note above on several posts...when you don't see it, maybe I'll have figured out enough of what I feel to finish the thought completely...or maybe the terror will have ended. No, I have no faith in that happening any time soon.)

In the last I don't know where to start. For me, that's quite an admission. It's been a long time since I came to this blog without a clear thought of what I wanted to write. I've gotten complacent. After 20 years in Israel, two sons in and out of the army, I felt like I was the expert.

I know...well, not on everything, and certainly not when it comes to living and coping in Israel. But I would have said I was so much more than those who came here I'll start by saying that having lived in Israel over 20 years, I have lived through many, many terror attacks...what's been happening in the last few days, as horrible as it is...pales against the scenes forever in my mind

An Open Letter to the World

In the last few days, as Israel has been hit with a wave of terror, I've started to write many times and each time, was only able to capture a fraction of what is on my mind and in my heart. To some extent, feelings are so fleeting, despair so deep, that you realize you can't capture it and you give up. In each half-finished post (or less or more), there is an element I want to share...and then, I get to a point and realize I can't. I can't really explain. I have another thought and so am starting that post but rather than let all these go...I'm going to publish them as they are...unfinished, unedited...unsure. Here's one:

(P.S. You'll see this note above on several posts...when you don't see it, maybe I'll have figured out enough of what I feel to finish the thought completely...or maybe the terror will have ended. No, I have no faith in that happening any time soon.)

Dear World,

This morning, a Palestinian woman blew herself up on the road that goes past my city and into Jerusalem. Her goal was to get herself to downtown Jerusalem (where I work daily) where tens of thousands of people shop and work and kill as many Israelis/Jews as possible. She was stopped with the help of God and an alert policeman from my city.

For many days now, you have ignored the ongoing wave of terror directed at Israelis. You have ignored the murder of parents, the orphaning of children. You do not see the violence, the stabbings, the terror, the stoning attacks and the fireworks used as weapons to attack innocent people who are just trying to live their lives and hold on to some level of normalcy.

The anger we have here boils inside - partly for what is being done here; partly for the Palestinians attempt to twist the facts to claim WE are guilty. A 19-year old stabs a 15 year old...an innocent, unarmed 15 year old waiting for a train...quick acting security manage to shoot and kill the 19 year old before he can kill the 15 year old or anyone else...and Abu Mazen mourns for the 19 year old terrorist/murderer.

A 13 year old Palestinian critically stabbed a 13 year old Jewish boy - and the Palestinians run to the world and complain about the Palestinian 13 year old murderer who was neutralized.

And the other part is that you, the world, are stupid enough and deaf enough to accept the Palestinians at their word and speak of Jews and Arabs at war and Israel and the Palestinians needing to calm down.

Would you calm down if your child was stabbed simply for being in the street waiting for a bus or a train?

Wake up...I would say before it is too late, but I've been on the streets of London and Amsterdam - it's already too late. Europe is dying. As amazing as that sounds, it is the truth. You are about to lose your identity, your enlightenment. Wait, this wave of terror we are experiencing...it's coming your way.

One Attack at a Time

In the last few days, as Israel has been hit with a wave of terror, I've started to write many times and each time, was only able to capture a fraction of what is on my mind and in my heart. To some extent, feelings are so fleeting, despair so deep, that you realize you can't capture it and you give up. In each half-finished post (or less or more), there is an element I want to share...and then, I get to a point and realize I can't. I can't really explain. I have another thought and so am starting that post but rather than let all these go...I'm going to publish them as they are...unfinished, unedited...unsure. Here's one:

(P.S. You'll see this note above on several posts...when you don't see it, maybe I'll have figured out enough of what I feel to finish the thought completely...or maybe the terror will have ended. No, I have no faith in that happening any time soon.)

Unfinished Post # 1:

When you are a soldier's mother, you learn the concept of "one day at a time." It's a common enough idea, one that many people use. Dieting, addiction, coping with long-term, serious illnesses - I've often heard people involved/dealing with each of these situations who say the same thing - take it one day at a time. If you don't succeed in coping today, that shouldn't doom your chances tomorrow...one day.

I learned that with a son in the army - the future was too much to anticipate and so it was today. Today, he is fine; today, he's okay. Where they'll move him to tomorrow, what will happen tomorrow...that's a whole day away. No reason to worry today. The mind has an endless capacity to overcome all logic.

For the past few days, Israel has suffered more terror attacks than I can count. We will learn to cope, we will overcome. The how is the question. I've been here a long time, experienced this before...as many of my friends are new...I wanted to explain how it was compared to how it is and how we can and will survive this.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The End of Yemen's Jews

According to The Muqata News Agency (fancy term but well deserved for one of the fastest, most accurate news reporting groups around), "the government of Yemen has declared that all Jews remaining there must convert to Islam or be expelled. There are about 180 Jews still living there."

So first, this likely means another airlift...the last for Yemen's Jews...in Israel, there are tens of thousands of Yemenite Jews living, thriving here. It's time for the last 180 to come home. A bigger question will be for the Jewish holy sites - the synagogues and cemeteries. I doubt we can bring this all to Israel, yet who will guarantee the safety of these places?

I want to say that I expect the world to scream out in anger. Forced conversion? What are we...back in the days of the Inquisition? The Crusades? And yet, clearly such barbaric tendencies still exist.

I want to demand that the United States worry about these 180 lives...

I want the United Nations to stop the world and rescue these people...my people.

But in the end, somehow, some way, Israel will get them. I believe that with complete faith. There must be a plan somewhere, Bibi...bring them home. Bring them to safety.

Once, long ago, Israel flew planes to Yemen and told the Jews to get onboard. Many of them had never seen planes and so their rabbis told them - on the wings of eagles, God will rescue you...these are the eagles...

Please Bibi...please God, let the eagles fly. Bring. Them. Home.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Josh Earnest Wants Us All to Just Get Along

Note: I attempted to publish this on The Times of Israel, but it was rejected. A site that publishes pretty much every curse word I have ever heard, refuses to publish a post calling a diplomat an idiot after he failed to use the word "terrorism" in his rush to urge "Israelis and Palestinians" to show restraint.
“We are deeply concerned about recent violence and escalating tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms violence against Israelis and Palestinian civilians.
We call upon all parties to take affirmative steps to restore calm and refrain from actions and rhetoric that would further inflame tensions in that region of the world.” -- Josh Earnest
Dear Josh,

I hope it's okay that I call you by your first name. In Israel, we are much more informal than the US. Many kids here call their teachers by their first names; soldiers call their commanding officers that way. Hell, we even call the Prime Minister by his nickname!

So, I heard your recent statement about the..um...violence in Israel and I just had to write to tell you. Josh, you're an idiot.

The US is deeply concerned? Glad to hear it and I can assure you that no one, no one is as concerned as the Israelis. Here we are, trying to live our lives as normally as possible when all of a sudden, some lunatic maniac extremist knife-wielding person comes out of nowhere and starts stabbing people!

You said, "The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms violence against Israelis and Palestinian civilians." Well, that's fine and cute but anything but fair. Did you happen to notice that the Palestinian civilians were carrying knives and placing them, not very gently, into Israelis? Usually their backs?

Then, you went from dumb to stupid, "We call upon all parties to take affirmative steps to restore calm." Um...so far, our actions have focused primarily on shooting the terrorists...I mean Palestinian civilians sticking knives into Israelis. But you may have something there...so what you are saying is that restoring calm is very important, right?

Sadly, the only sure-fire way to do that now is to take steps that we are hesitant to take. See, we can't really know which Arab has a knife until he or she uncovers it, raises it in the air, and prepares to plunge it into someone. At that moment, with the assistance of gravity, restoring calm is probably not realistic. So, to get to that calm place you're thinking of, we'd have to get there before the knife is uncovered.

If you really feel that we need to take steps to restore the calm, what that amounts to, at this moment, is keeping the Arabs who are attacking Israelis out of arms reach - so they can't stretch out their arms and stab Israelis. But, as you have probably guessed, you can't really tell which Arabs are going to stab and which are simply in our cities to shop, seek medical treatments, work in any number of places...so you see, to keep out the terrorists completely, we'd have to keep the Arabs out of our cities as well. Surely that isn't what you are suggesting, right?

If not, we can't restore the calm; we can't stop the attacks. The Jewish student that was stabbed and critically wounded in Jerusalem near the train - didn't do anything to break the calm. The woman who was stabbed this morning in Tel Aviv didn't do anything to break the calm.

I'm wondering whether you are naive enough to think we can continue to live with these endless attacks, this violence brought into our cities by people who are completely taking advantage of the open nature of our society. The fact is, we cannot "get along" with the Palestinians so long as every answer they have for not getting all that they want involves a violent response.

What you said, Josh, is akin to Israel suggesting that the US and Al Qaida have to learn to get along; have to work together to bring back the calm. If we put Al Qaida and the US on an equal moral plane, you'd be horrified, insulted and you'd probably feel justified in calling us idiots.

So, I'll return the favor. There is no moral equality served by suggesting that the man who stabbed a fifteen year old boy and the man who shot the terrorist and stopped him from killing that child are on the same level, or even live in the same society.

There is no way that the security forces that killed the terrorist who had just murdered two fathers, stabbed a mother and shot a 2-year-old in the leg can restore calm in any way other than what they did - neutralizing the murderer.

There comes a time when a man must stand up for truth rather than continue to speak nonsensical words that others put in his mouth. I encourage you to shed the inane, meaningless language you have been taught in the school of diplomacy and begin speaking the language of honesty.

Israel cannot restore calm because we didn't break it. The only thing you can do with a terrorist is hope to neutralize him before he succeeds in killing.

Our true friends will stand beside Israel in these difficult hours and demand that the Palestinians stop the violence they started, that they finally denounce terrorism and return to negotiations without preconditions.

Anything short of that is, without a doubt, yet another betrayal - not only of Israel but of justice as well. By continuing your silence in the face of this latest wave of terror - a wave that has already cost the lives of at least one US citizen, you play into the hands of the terrorists perfectly.
You teach them that they can get away, quite literally, with murder. If you learn anything from September 11, it should be that terrorism comes to the shores of those who fail to fight it, fail to condemn it, and fail to support others involved in the same fight.

What starts in Israel, spreads to the world. That is true of the light - monotheism, the Bible, the Judeo-Christian faith upon which our countries are built; and it is true of the dark - suicide attacks, attempts to undermine the fabric of our society by introducing values that do not center on life, on peace.

Today, you sounded like an idiot because you agreed to speak the words the White House demands of you, rather than standing for truth and honor.

I can only hope that tomorrow, you will come to your senses and demand, on behalf of a suddenly-enlightened administration, that Abbas reign in the terrorists, stop the ongoing attacks.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Twelve Hours in Time

Stop for a second and think about the last 12 hours of your life, of what has happened in your city, your country.

Now imagine if all of these happened within a distance roughly the size of New Jersey - a tiny country.

Keeping a Sense of Humor

When I went into labor with my oldest child, I was sent to the hospital. They did an examination and told me to go home and come back later. I was a bit surprised. "When should I come back?" I asked them.

"When you can't tell any more jokes," the doctor said with a smile. I'd been talking, smiling and joking around in between the rather weak contractions. At the time, to be fair, I didn't know the contractions were weak...a few hours later, I had learned quickly.

I went back four hours later and, as the doctor had predicted, I couldn't tell jokes. I remember thinking them and then realizing they would take too much energy and so they went unsaid. I didn't lose my sense of humor; it was just too much to verbalize.

Earlier today, I did lose my sense of humor. Reports were coming in from different parts of the country. It felt like it was every few minutes. I was trying to work and my phone kept beeping. Jerusalem. Tel Aviv. Kiryat Arba. Jerusalem. Stabbings - six people wounded in total, at least two seriously. The terrorists were caught in almost all cases (one got away).

I'm not sure which attack broke me more...the one at the train station that I go to almost daily? The one right in front of the mall that I was in yesterday? The one in the city where my parents live? The one in the city where my younger attends high school?

I thought about all the places where there had been attacks and as this startling pattern began to emerge...so too did my sense of humor. As I smiled a bit, I realized that I was not to be defeated. I posted this to Facebook:
So, I figured this out...I think this whole terror wave is my fault. Yesterday, they hit Petach Tivkah, where my parents live. Last night, close to Maale Adumim...a short while ago, they caught an Arab a few blocks from where I am...then there was an attack near the Azrieli Mall, where I was yesterday...and a few minutes ago, an attack in Kiryat Arba where my daughter goes to school...

Are you sensing a pattern? I think this is all my fault.
One person asked, "eh, where are you going tonight?" (thanks, Yarden).

To which I responded, "I thought you invited me to dinner, no?"

So far, my sense of humor, sick though it might be, has managed to stick around. I had to go out of the office for a bit, and so posted, "Dear Palestinians - I need to go to the shuk and the bathroom. Could you please chill out for the next hour or so?"

It seems that I'm not the only one with a sense of humor today. A Palestinian went into the center of Tel Aviv and began stabbing people. Four people were injured, including a young woman. A brave soldier in the Air Force saw what was happening, stepped out and killed the terrorist, preventing him from hurting others.

Someone posted a picture of his dead body (the terrorists, thankfully) to Facebook showing he was shot in the head. I've cut the picture so that you can see what is on his shirt.

Who says terrorists don't have a sense of humor?   

Though, someone probably should have told him that "Time Heals All Wounds" isn't always guaranteed. I'm thinking a bullet to the center of his forehead is kind of fatal. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Israel Doesn't Run

Just over 4,000 years ago, Abraham was commanded to leave his ome and journey to a far off land that God promised him would be for him and for his descendants. For all that time, uninterrupted, the Jews knew Israel was the place we belonged. We were exiled, and returned; exiled again and returned; and exiled again and returned. After the first exile, we actually never left. There were always Jews in this land from the time the Jews returned from Babylonia until today.

Once the Jews were ONLY in Israel, than mostly, than less. Once again, there are more Jews in this land than in any other in the world. We have been hounded and hunted, persecuted and pursued through centuries and continents. When we began returning in larger numbers, we could have lived with the small Arab population in peace, as we had lived for centuries in their countries and among Christians in Europe and elsewhere. We did not instigate the pogroms, the Crusades, the Inquisitions and the Holocaust.

And we did not instigate the conflict here in pre-Israel Palestine. During those years, the Palestinians were anyone who lived here - Jew or Arab. The Jerusalem Post, the only major English newspaper in Israel was originally called The Palestine Post. We fight a war we did not start, nor did we seek one.

My grandfather was born in Poland; his family had moved there from Spain. He moved to the United States...always seeking a better life, a safer one. His mother and his two sisters died in Auschwitz. He came to Israel once in his life and then promised to take me to Israel...he died before he could fulfill that promise, but my husband and I closed the circle, bringing our children to the only land that was, is, and will be theirs.

We have been fighting for 67 years simply to live in peace. We have been accused of being the aggressors, the occupiers, the conquerors.

Last week, a young Palestinian stabbed a 24 year old Jewish father of two, killing him. He stabbed the man's Jewish wife, who is 22 years old. She screamed for help and begged people...Arabs...to help her. They spat on her and told her to die. A Jewish man came running to help. He was stabbed and killed as well. A two year old child of the Jewish couple was shot in the leg before security forces arrived and killed the Palestinian terrorist.

A day later, a young Palestinian decided to kill Jews too. He stabbed a 15 year old boy...and was then killed by security forces.

President and Chief Liar of the Palestinian "Authority" - Mahmoud Abbas - held his silence about the murder of a young Jewish couple right before the eyes of their four children on Thursday; that he was silent about the murders of two fathers and the stabbing of a Jewish boy. As bad as it was that Abbas held his silence..it was made much worse by the fact that he PRAISED the killers and demanded that Israel be condemned.

And to make it worse, the idiot Secretary General of the UN bowed low before Abbas and condemned Israel. The farce that is the world boggles the mind. A mother and father are gunned down and you praise the killers? What the hell is wrong with these people?

And when Israelis began to protest the wave of terror and demand one of the strongest armies in the world be given the right and the power to defend them, Israel's left came out swinging. One woman in Raanana comfortably explained that she wasn't "a target" of Palestinians. One man suggested the protesters were "right-wing fascists."

Apparently whatever Abbas and Ban Ki-moon have is contagious. And so it could have been that Israel would have celebrated what is normally one of the happiest and best times of the year - a month filled with holidays and vacation and hiking and camping and relaxation, with anger and pain and frustration. That's what the Arabs wanted - now and in the past. It's why they attacked on Yom Kippur 32 years ago and why they often attempts terror attacks during this period.

So last week we mourned and struggled not to sink into so many emotions. We danced harder, sang louder and held our children just a bit tighter.

And then, a few days ago, Bon Jovi came to Israel and sang what he called "the fight song for Tel Aviv" - and by that, I think, he meant all of Israel. I guess I can confess - I have no musical talent, no singing ability. The songs I like are more about content than tune and I'd never heard a Bon Jovi song in my life.

That's probably embarrassing but well, the music in my life is the music of words. I hear music in what I read and sometimes what I write. This time, in the midst of such great sadness, this man came to Israel and sang...and Israel danced to his tune.

No, I don't think he wrote the song for Israel...but he's definitely right - we don't run!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

BBC's Changing Headline

There are certain fundamental facts of life that everyone knows. What those facts are can often differ according to gender, religion, race, nationality. Take two people and show them some incident and often they will come away with two different "facts."

I am, for the most part, thoroughly amazed by the world's impression of Israel (and Jews). I would think a simple view of facts would clarify so much and yet, it never seems to matter. I don't agree, but can understand, when the world tell us that our "owning" the land of Israel 3,000 years ago does not impact on today. But how can the world honestly believe all our problems began in 1967, by the so-called "occupation." Seriously?

The Palestine Liberation Organization - a terror group created to eliminate the Zionist presence in "their" homeland, was created in 1964. No attacks until the Zionists were granted a state of their own? What about the murderous attacks on Hebron in 1929?

This was Palestinian land before Israel occupied it? What about the fact that the British took 2/3 of the Palestine mandate and created a fictitious land named Jordan? What about the fact that we agreed to the Partition Plan in 1947 and it was the Arabs that chose war and then started whining when they lost?

History does not determine truth; that is for sure.

Perhaps it is headlines...yes, maybe the media is so powerful it can manipulate information and truth to influence opinions. That is actually closer to reality than any of us would probably be comfortable with.

Last night, a 19 year old Palestinian decided that the Third Intifada had arrived. He posted to Facebook and then he went out to kill some Jews. Brave "man" that he was - he attacked a Jewish family, stabbing the father and mother. A Jewish man in his 40s, a father of 7, ran out from his home to try to stop the attack. A video taken by Arabs in the marketplace shows they did nothing (ran away and listened and one even casually drank from a can) as they listened to the terrified shrieks of a small child being shot in the leg.

The father of the two children and the father of the seven children were murdered; the mother of the two children is in critical condition. The two year old was shot but will survive; another small child was miraculously uninjured.

The terrorist was eliminated. Shot. Dead.

BBC covered the story.

Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two? First, why was Jerusalem attacking anything? Second, who killed the two? What two?

The Palestinian MURDERED two innocent people. This headline is an outrage, a distortion of the facts. It is a clear attempt to influence your view.

Clearly, you are meant to sympathize with the murdered two, but BBC doesn't want you to blame the poor Palestinian...after all, he was shot dead.

Israel's Facebook exploded with anger. It isn't enough that Palestinian terrorists gunned down a father and mother in front of their four children on Thursday; it isn't enough that cars, buses, and trains are relentlessly being attacked by rock-throwers who by-and-large are getting away with it. It isn't enough that two mothers have been injured in these attacks - both with young babies in the car that miraculously escaped harm. It isn't enough that in last night's attack, another mother is struggling for her life, her two children having already lost their father.

Apparently, even BBC realized that the headlines was nearly as abhorrent as the attack itself.

A short while after untold numbers of protests, BBC modified the heading.

It's an improvement but considering that the Palestinian was dead on the ground with clear proof of his identity and his admission that he died as part of the third intifada, the quote marks are rather telling.

Apparently BBC realized that this too was insulting. The victims are clearly identified, at least some of them (and the missing part is telling...more on that in a moment), so why do they hesitate to identify the murderer? The terrorist? The "man" who thought murdering two fathers and attacking a woman and two babies was acceptable?

BBC does mention that "two others were also injured in a knife attack." Well, there we go with the framing again. The two others that were injured included a two year old baby who was shot. Shot because when Rabbi Lavi ran out to try to save the family under attack, he too was stabbed. The Palestinian terrorist then grabbed his gun and aimed it at the other victims.

Soon, the headline changed again.

It now reads "Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in Old City".

The BBC article then goes on to explain about the deaths of the two Israelis. BBC reports on another attack that happened a few hours later - reporting that an Israeli teenager was stabbed and his assailant was also killed by police.

Teenager is really a way of cleansing the act. After all, the murderer himself was a teenager, wasn't he? The boy...yes, boy...that was attacked was 15 years old.

The article also mentions that the attack "comes two days after an Israeli couple were shot dead in the West Bank."

No mention of the fact that as the sun rose over Israel today, there are fourteen orphans. Fourteen children who have lost their fathers (and four that have also lost their mother in the same attack).

BBC does not mention these children, yet they too are victims of these attacks. BBC does not mention families in mourning, communities in shock.

And they don't mention the tears that come to my eyes as I hear my two year old granddaughter call out to her father, "Abba! Abba!" downstairs as I write this.

One crime from the Nazi era that is rarely mentioned was in fact the very crime that enabled the Holocaust to happen - the dehumanization of Jewish lives. When you call a fifteen year old a "teenager"; when you don't mention the shooting of a two year old; when you don't mention 14 orphans; when you call victims "settlers" instead of Jews, Israelis, or simply parents or human beings...all this leads again to the dehumanization of the Jew.

It happened countless times in history. It cannot be allowed to happen here in our homeland. Each victim has a name; each child must be mentioned. The one who chose to be dehumanized was the Arab terrorist. I have mentioned his age but will not mention his name. Instead, I will curse it and pray that his memory be erased - perhaps the worst curse you can give a person according to Judaism.

"Yamach shemo" - erase his name, God, please.

And please bless the Henkin, Lavi, and Benito orphans and watch over them, bless the widows with strength in the coming days. Please grant Adele bat Miriam (Adele, daughter of Miriam) and Natan ben Adele (Natan, son of Adele (and Aharon)), a full and speedy recovery from their wounds.

And please bless the world with clarity of vision to see the threat that faces Israel, and them.

And please continue to bless and watch over Israel. You have taken back to Heaven four amazing souls, whatever tasks you assigned them in this world having been completed. It will be hard, so hard, for those left behind to understand and through their pain accept that these four can now do more in the world-to-come.

Today, we will bury two fathers as on Friday, we buried a father and a mother. Please God, bless Israel with peace.

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