Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Threat Like No Other

Last night, Hamas made a threat. No one believed they would carry it out. And if they did, those same "no ones" never believed they would be successful. So all in all, the sun rose this morning in Israel, people woke up, showered or not, dressed (hopefully), drank their morning coffee or tea, took it in a traveling cup or set off for work expecting to drink something when they arrive.

The roads were packed in the typical places, a bit light because it is the end of August but Israel morning traffic as usual. Radios were on because that's how most Israelis drive, with regular news breaks on most stations, because that's how most Israelis live. And above, in the skies, it was relatively normal, if a bit more tense than usual.

No major incoming or outgoing flight disruptions were seen by the outside world. In the past, under credible threat, Israel has ordered planes to "collect" further offshore and then our jets fly them in safely. I remember once hearing that the planes, flown by former IDF pilots, landed every 45 seconds as the air force circled and protected them.

Last night, Hamas threatened to fire rockets at Ben Gurion International Airport at 6:00 a.m. Elie left to pick up Lauren and the baby, scheduled to arrive at 7:00. Security was tight, even when Elie got there, but the planes flew in as normal. It was a matter of pride and a signal to Hamas.

No, you are not going to change us; you are not going to ruin our lives as you have ruined the lives of the people of Gaza. It was meant to be a threat like no other - how many times is an international airport threatened with disaster? I've heard of airports closing because of bomb threats, but not on a scale such as this.

Today, our international airport was threatened - but like most of Hamas' threats, they were intended to cause terror (which they didn't) and to cause disruptions (of which there were none).

Lauren and the baby landed safely and are now back home with Elie in their new apartment.

Only two airlines heeded Hamas' warning - those would be the airlines of Jordan and Turkey - all the rest of the world is beginning to understand that Hamas is nothing more than a terror organization experiencing the end of its existence. The only real question at this point, is how much of Gaza it will take with it into extinction.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Israel

It's been 21 years to the day since I landed at Ben Gurion airport with two small boys, 9 suitcases, 6 carry-ons, a carriage and a car seat. I was met at the airport by a smiling husband who had landed more than 2 months before, and a 7 year old daughter who had come a month earlier.

The minute the wheels of the plane touched the ground, I knew a peace that has rarely been missing in all the years since that day when we walked down the staircase to home. It's silly when the truth sounds so cliche-ish, but it's true. In all those years, I have never once wished myself anywhere else, and the few times I have left for brief visits - all of which I can count on one hand - I have spent much of the time wishing I was here.

I have loved you since I was 13-years-old. At first, it was the love of right, of justice, of dreams becoming reality. It was the distant love of a young girl looking for logic and reason, more, for an explanation. If all we ever did was walk like sheep and cower before the Cossacks, what was there to be proud of? That's all I wanted to understand - and it all became crystal clear as I began to understand you.

You are the reality we waited for, worked towards, for 2,000 years. You enabled a broken people to walk out of the gas chambers, concentration camps and Displaced Persons camps in which they dumped us after the war. We came here to a land that needed us as much as we needed you. You offered us the promise that no one would ever do again what was done over the centuries of exile. We were home to be protected and to protect.

You are more than a piece of land, more than the fulfillment of a promise. You are our opportunity to excel, to be so much of what we as a people want to be. Perhaps, ultimately, that is why they hate us so much. We heal ourselves and we heal the children of our enemies; we even heal our enemies - not because the world threatens us but because that is a part of our nature. When we must fight, we fight with honor and morality and if the world is too stupid or hate-filled to notice it; that doesn't change what we do because ultimately, we answer to ourselves and to God, not Obama and the United Nations.

Today, I want to think not of them, but of us. What we have accomplished in these 21 years - you and me. You have created more innovation, more life-saving devices than I can list. Everyday elements of the lives of the majority of the world are touched by what has been created here in this tiny land.

Even as our enemies curse us and boycott us, it's all a lie - because they don't boycott the vast majority of the technology that comes from Israel. They are all here, those hi-tech companies, because they recognize our dedication, our intelligence, our yearning to solve any challenge sent out way.

That is the light that overshadows the darkness. We are not naive enough to refuse to see the hate sent our way; we simply refuse to let it cripple us or stop us.

In the time I have been here, they have set fire innumerable times to your fields and valleys and forests. They know that in hurting the land, they hurt us. And what they fail to understand each and every time, is that you can't claim the land as yours, while attacking it year after year.

They watch us plant in the desert and laugh because who can bring life to death? And then they and their culture of death watch in astounded silence as the desert blooms, as forests grow where once there was barren land and swamps are drained to the fertile land underneath. As a people, once isolated and alone, thrives and grows as strong and proud as the very land on which we live.

They have fired rockets and missiles, exploded bombs and bodies, thrown firebombs and boulders and stones. They have stabbed us, shot us and broken our hearts more times than I can list over the 21 years I have been here, and the 45 before that. And what infuriates them most is that while they can break our hearts easily, they have never, not once, broken our spirit or our determination.

You and we together have brought home tens of thousands - from Ethiopia and Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and beyond. They have returned to you from the Soviet Union and now from France, England, Belgium, the Ukraine and the United States. We have built mega-cities and almost daily I watch this large building in Herziliya grow floor by floor, stopping for nothing, not even war.

Roads, super-highways and more have been built and are being built - everywhere, we are building because that is what people do in their land. They settle it, they develop it, they love it.

And in these 21 years, I too have grown, though perhaps less dramatically. Two children we have added to the three we brought here. Born in Israel, they are so beautiful, so tall, so strong. They converse in Hebrew, think and dream in Hebrew and because I came when they were young enough, the three older ones do as well. Two have served in your army; one gave her time to national service. Another is about to step forward to serve and deep in my heart, I know I'll survive this one going in, even if right now it doesn't seem possible to go through this all again.

There are ignorant ones, even with many degrees and even from our own people, who say that my life is in limbo, unfinished and unable to move forward because I have chosen to live 5 miles to the east of Jerusalem instead of to the west. How silly they are, how unaware of the truth!

Limbo? I have five of the most special people in the world that I call my own. Three have married to give me eight of the most amazing gifts a human being could have. Two have brought me little angels that show me the future is going to be an amazing place.

Dear Israel - you have given me so much in these years - life, love, happiness, a home - above all, a promise. You are eternal in a way that no other land is, has been, or will be.

Let them have their commissions, their inquiries. Let them ignore the amazing gifts you have brought and continue to bring to the world. Let them ignore that we are a people of life, of peace. All this is a moment in an eternity, a second in a lifetime and beyond.

Each year, I sit under the fireworks of Independence Day and whisper so no one will hear because they may think it silly that I speak to a land, a physical thing but not a person. So, on that day, each year, I wish you a happy birthday because I celebrate the day you were reborn. I watch the colors in the sky and know that we have turned a dream into reality, a hope into a promise. This is a national gift, something we all share and so I join in a national moment of celebration.

And on this day, each year, it is my chance to thank you for all that you are to the People of Israel, but more, all that you are to me. Above all you have given me, the most precious gift, is the gift of home.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Four Days in the Life of a Fourteen Year Old Girl

In the midst of the war, Aliza's youth group's annual summer camp date arrived this week. Four days of hiking and camping out. She was a bit horrified that there would be no showers (she was happy that in the last night there was finally facilities for a shower). She went prepared...two phones, three batteries.

She took enough sweets and candies to last a month - and ate almost none of them. She's been drinking a lot - that's good and smart because it's August in Israel which translates to HOT, HOT, and HOTTER.

With the grace of God, there was a ceasefire during the entire time...except that Hamas broke it at 9:30 last night and I fought the urge to get in the car and go get her. With each siren and each report of a rocket hitting, I told myself I was being ridiculous, and I was. She had already gotten very close to Jerusalem - not out of range, but still quite far.

I kept thinking they should have canceled the camp...though Aliza is so happy that they didn't. As to what they did - over the last four days, she has walked from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem - not only a distance of 47 kilometers (29.2 miles) but uphill as well.

She walked 10 kilometers the first day; 15 the next. She walked 13 kilometers yesterday and will walk the final 9 kilometers today. She asked me to make her chicken soup (which I make with turkey)...she said that's all she wants.

So...I'm leaving work early today to go home and make the soup I would normally make tomorrow...because I can't wait to have her home and because despite my own cowardice, I am so proud that she walked 47 kilometers seeing some of the most beautiful areas of Israel!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What We Accomplished During this War

No, this isn't an analysis of the war, especially because I don't believe we are done. I think Round 3 will begin, as Hamas has promised, TONIGHT after midnight. That frightens me more than I can admit on a personal level.

Each summer, my children look forward to the youth group camping. When they are in the early grades, it is for one night, and slowly, through the years, it builds. Last year, Aliza joined her youth group for a three day trip...this year, her final year in the youth group, it is for four nights.

They are walking from Beit Shemesh, in the center of the country, up through the mountains to Jerusalem. They are averaging 10-15 kilometers a day. I'm astounded and proud of her...and worried that tomorrow night, her last night, Hamas could fire rockets.

The army restricts gatherings of over 500 people within a certain range of Gaza. She is not in that range and the chances of them aiming where her group will be sleeping is so small...and yet too large for a worried mother.

But that's the worry - what I wanted to write about was the accomplishments made during this war...on the smallest possible level...and here it is.

I have a client in Herzilya. Part of Herziliya has become one of the largest centers of innovation in the country. Driving here, you pass major hi-tech companies - Microsoft, Oracle, Google...just to name a few.

For the last few weeks, I have been slowly losing the view of the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The view is gone but what remains is a testament to Israel. Each day, the workers go up there and do what they do, and each week, there is a new floor that will soon be filled with more hi-tech companies creating the most amazing software and hardware in the world. Really.

In the early days, I worried what would happen to the workers if there was a siren while they were working up there. In the end, I was lucky. All the days that there were sirens, I was working remotely. Though I've often had video conferences in the bomb shelter, I've never had to go there to seek shelter and since I was never there, I can't say what happens to the workers way up on the cranes.

But what I can tell you is that despite the war, nothing stopped these guys from working. There before my eyes, the building has grown several stories in height. There's a message in there for Hamas. You can't stop us from living; you can't even stop us from building!

A Message to France

Europe is being conquered...and the amazing part is that it is happening daily, all over Europe. The Europeans know this and the smart ones are very worried. Many French Jews are waking up and have made plans to move to Israel; Ukrainian Jews have been coming to Israel.

What is left behind is a Europe that won't be recognized by its citizens in the coming years. I can't say they don't deserve it; but I know that they will regret it. This Latma video is cute and funny...with a very serious message underneath.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Today, No Rockets Were Fired at Israel

None...

And you see, the saddest part about that is that this is news - not that rockets WERE fired, but that they were NOT.

In Israel, no children ran to bomb shelters; no mothers struggled to grab their children while calculated the safest place to hide. No soldiers walked up to a house and delivered the worst news a parent could ever hear.

In any other country, the news would be shocked to report that a rocket had been fired within its borders. Here in Israel, the big news story is that Hamas has actually managed to withhold its fire for coming up on 48 hours now.

Robin Williams and the Jewish Problem

There's this old joke about a teacher assigning her students with the task of writing about elephants. The French child wrote about the love life of elephants, or some such thing. The Italian wrote of what elephants ate - all stereotypical responses. As for the Jewish child, he wrote, "The Elephant and the Jewish Problem."


I don't know why I thought of that - maybe I'm looking for a smile.

I heard that Robin Williams had died on the way into work this morning....they discussed his talents, his movies. Said he had three children.

And then the inevitable conversation, "I heard he was Jewish," said one newscaster.

"No, his wife is Jewish," responded the Hollywood-based reporter.

"So, his children are Jewish," said the first.

"No, he was married three times. His current wife is Jewish; his children are from a previous marriage. But he was a mentsch [a good person]."

Maybe that sums up so much - he was a mentsch in a world where there are so few. He was so much a part of my growing up...so many movies, so many smiles. I always thought he was the most human of men, the smartest, the best.

He never struck me, as George Clooney did, as full of himself but rather full of talent. He made America laugh - better I can say of few men.

May his memory be blessed and may whatever tormented him in life, leave him alone in death. May his family be comforted - few live as full a life as he did. He gave great meaning to so many roles, each a message for all of us.

Understand Israel...in Just 10 Minutes

Ron Dermer on CNN

Update - it was a HAMAS rocket, NOT Israeli...see how brilliantly Israel's Ron Dermer responded...and how badly the media failed to accurately report the most basic facts in this incident.

The outrage of the world has to be turned on Hamas - absolutely!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Gaza Deserves its Own Iron Dome

I'm tired - I started to call this post just that - I'm tired. I keep thinking it and writing it and still the depth of my exhaustion can't be described. It is emotionally draining - this whole thing - war, ceasefire, war, rockets, the worry about who has been called, who will be called.

I sleep for a few hours and wake in the middle of the night wondering if my friends in the south are asleep or hearing sirens. I try to work but every so often - sometimes several times an hour, sometimes a few hours apart, my computer rings to indicate a missile attack.

So now we are about 20 hours into the second  72 hour ceasefire. Hamas promises it will be the last; swears in the next attack, they will attack Tel Aviv. Considering they attacked Tel Aviv last night minutes before the ceasefire began, why do they think that threat will break us?

Everywhere, the talk is still of the war. No one believes it is over - even the people who thought it was over last time, now understand we are not done.

On the bright side, my family managed to weather this one with no one inside and chances of one of my sons being called now is probably low. Still, the tension in the country, in my house, in my world, is so high.

Tomorrow, after about 6 weeks of waiting, we get our new car. Even before I left the hospital after the accident, my husband had called Mitsubishi, told them about the accident and asked them to reserve the same car, same color. We had literally been talking about how much I loved the car on the way up to our meetings, an hour or so before the accident.

I should be more excited about getting the car...I probably will be when I see it. For now, I'm more caught up in waiting, watching, wondering. It sounds like a silly soap opera - Will Tom catch Ann? Will Hamas fire before the ceasefire? Will Richard discover Kate's secret? Are there more tunnels that can be used.

And will the UN be satisfied if we give Gaza its own Iron Dome?

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