Tag Archives: Jerusalem Post

How to be proud of Israel

Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...Within the course of several days I read three interesting articles regarding Israel that I thought merited sharing. One of them bothered me very much;  I thought it deserved comment because it was rather unfortunate that an orthodox Jewish college student is taking up the mantra of left-wing anti-Semites; the other two, because they show Israel for what it is – a state built upon Jewish ethics and caring, and a land which has been waiting for Israel, it’s rightful owners, to return.

The “unfortunate” article appeared this past Sunday in the Jerusalem Post. It was an opinion piece by Atara Siegel  explaining “Why Israel is losing support from Jewish students on US college campuses“. (I still can’t figure out the Jerusalem Post’s weird choice of accompanying picture of a female student at Barnard College’s graduation ceremony who looks like an animal  about to pounce.) I expected this to either be enlightening or an article coming from a left-leaning anti-Israel student in one of the many liberal/secular colleges across the country.  Atara Siegel is, surprisingly, a student at Yeshiva University who felt the need  to explain to the world that although she loves Israel, studied here for a year, plans on working here in the summer, and making sure her education would be transferable to Israel she refuses to lobby Congress on behalf of Israel. Why? Because no matter how much good Israel does in the world it’s not enough since Israel is not a “perfect country” and the Israeli people are not perfect people. She writes:

… I wish I could ignore painful articles about price tag attacks and settlers shooting Palestinians, and simply write to American politicians and newspapers about Israel’s commitment to the security of its citizens, its medical and technological advances and aid to third world countries. But I can’t.

… Of course no country is perfect…

… But even one racist slur is a problem, even one unprovoked price tag attack damages Israel’s claim to have the moral high ground in its relations with Palestinians.

And when it is not just one racist slur, but many, not just marginal extremists involved in the melee, but Knesset ministers, it becomes harder, even for someone with a deep love for Israel, to advocate for Israel as the most democratic country and most stable American ally in the Middle East.

As someone who loves Israel deeply, this trend is extremely saddening. In addition to coming to visit, working in and studying in Israel, I want to be proud of Israel, too.

The next article  in Mishpacha Magazine’s January 9, 2013  issue, titled “Open Hearts in the War Zone” presents the perfect juxtaposition to Atara Siegel’s piece. It shows the true nature of the Jewish State and the Jewish people – and makes me really proud of Israel and her wonderful people!

Taking cover as Iron Dome swings into action.

The author, Rachel Ginsberg, relates the experiences of a team of American Hatzaloh volunteers who were called to Israel to assist during the recent Operation Amud Anan – Pillar of Defense. They had  previously trained in Israel so that they could come here and pitch-in during emergency situations. These fine people who came to help out their brothers, rather than castigate them,  exclaim about how amazing Israel really is:

[Mordechai] Soroka [of Brooklyn] says one of the most surprising things he witnessed was the similar care administered to Arab patients, in spite of the hostilities on the ground. …’We provided ventilation and medication and high-level care for over an hour,’ [Eliyahu] Feldman [of Miami] reported. ‘It’s impossible to convey our mixed feelings, except to say what the well-spoken IDF commander answered when asked why we render care to Palestinians: ‘Because we’re not them.’

And the next day…

it happened again.

The third article, Israel’s miraculous climate changepresents a rather interesting (and seldom heard) long view of history  by Joseph Farah, a pro-Israel Arab-American. It’s a great read and I hope you enjoy and appreciate it as much as I did:

JERUSALEM – Here I am in Israel, and what am I
thinking about?

Climate change.

Why climate change?

For 1,800 years it seemed unlikely that Israel would ever be reborn.

No nation in history had ever been regathered after such a lengthy period. Even the Hebrew language was lost in that time.

Meanwhile, the Promised Land became a barren wasteland – a desert no man could master.

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Land became a wasteland during the 1,800-year dispersion of the Jews that lasted until they returned in significant numbers beginning in the early 20th century?

1750 Homann Heirs Map of Israel - Palestine - ...

1750 Homann Heirs Map of Israel – Palestine – Holy Land (12 Tribes) – Geographicus – Palestina-homannheirs-1750 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever wondered why Mark Twain was so disappointed at what he found in his travels through the area in the 19th century?

Have you ever wondered why, during that period of nearly two millennia, no other people successfully and permanently settled this land that is so much in dispute today?

It was all a fulfillment of prophecy. Little did Mark Twain know when he wrote about his trip to the Holy Land that he was fulfilling prophecy, but he was.

1 Kings 9:6-8 explains it all:

“But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?”

It wasn’t just the children of Israel who suffered as a result of their disobedience and apostasy. So did the land itself.

In his book, “Prophecies for the Era of Muslim Terror,” Rabbi Menachem Kohen points out the land suffered an unprecedented, severe and inexplicable (by anything other than supernatural explanations) drought that lasted from the first century until the 20th – a period of 1,800 years coinciding with the forced dispersion of the Jews.

Kohen sees this as a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy found in the book of Deuteronomy – especially chapter 28:23-24:

“And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

“The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”

The climate in Israel dramatically changed during this 1,800-period – way before Al Gore discovered “global warming.”

Before the Jews entered Canaan, it was described in the Bible as a land flowing with milk and honey. If you read what Israel’s climate and natural landscape was like from the time Joshua crossed the Jordan right up until the time of Jesus, it sounds like a heavily forested land. There were amazing crops raised by the people who inhabited the land when the Jews arrived.

Once I wondered what happened to Israel to turn it into the dusty, arid land it was when the Jews came back in the 20th century. Until I read that prophecy in Deuteronomy, brought to my attention by Rabbi Kohen, I had no clue.

For 1,800 years, it hardly ever rained in Israel. This was the barren land discovered by Mark Twain. So-called “Palestine” was a wasteland – nobody lived there. There was no indigenous Arab population to speak of. It only came after the Jews came back.

Beginning in A.D. 70 and lasting until the early 1900s – about 660,000 days – no rain.

I decided to check this out as best I could and examined the rainfall data for 150 years in Israel beginning in the early 1800s and leading up to the 1960s. What I found was astonishing – increasing rainfall almost every single year – with the heaviest rainfall coming in and around 1948 and 1967. Is this just a coincidence?

I’ll be quite honest with you: I don’t think so.

Nor do I think Israel can continue today to make bad stewardship decisions regarding the land bequeathed to the Jews by God without consequences – serious consequences.

And that’s exactly what Israel is doing today – yielding to global pressure to trade “land for peace.” It won’t work. In fact, the prophet Daniel (Daniel 11:39) warns that this will eventually happen in the last days – and bring about the final conflagration known as “Armageddon.”

That’s why I believe in climate change. But it’s not the imaginary kind caused by carbon dioxide. It’s caused by the Creator of carbon dioxide – and everything else.

He’s still got a plan for this land of Israel. And He is absolutely intolerant of anyone or anything that interferes with it.

And considering the tremendous amount of rainfall we had here in Israel just this past week, I would say that G-d is still on our side (even if Atara isn’t).

I would just like to remind Atara of two things: (1) even our patriarchs, matriarchs, and greatest leaders like Moshe Rabeinu (Moses) and Dovid Hamelech (King David)  were not perfect and (2) of the sin of the spies’ (Numbers ch. 13-14) derogatory report about the land of Israel and the aftermath.

As for me,  I’m a proud Jew, proud of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, and honored to be living in our land.

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Oh, It’s a Happy Chanukah In Israaaael….

Oh, it’s a happy Chanukah in Israaaael
Menorahs make your heart so light!
When the day is gray and ordinary
Sufganityot* make the sun shine bright!
Oh, happiness is blooming all around here
The daffodils are smiling at the dove
When Chanukah comes to the land, you feel so grand
Your heart starts beating like a Big Brass Band
Oh, it’s a  happy Chanukah in Israaaael
No wonder that it’s Chanukah that we love! **

Celebrating the Jewish holidays in Israel is a very different experience than observing them in the States because here the whole country is celebrating with you. I’m not sure how long the WOW factor lasts after aliyah (it’s almost 1 ¼ years for us) – I hope it never goes away – but  I’m still amazed and delighted that what used to be for me a communal event is a national celebration here and I’m part of it!

Billboard Magazine's Chanukah Cover

Even Billboard Magazine gets into the Chanukah spirit!

Chanukah even ranks top in the Jerusalem Post’s Billboard Magazine; full of movie, TV, and entertainment listings, Chanukah gets the front cover and the magazine features a variety of Chanukah events taking place around the country. And, it’s the only holiday which takes front and center at this time of year!

Listening to the radio on the holidays (or any other time) also has that WOW factor, since now I don’t have to tune to one specific station and/or for a few specific limited hours during the day to listen to Jewish thoughts, ideals, and values. What a pleasure to turn on the radio and hear discussions about issues affecting the country as a Jewish country,  divrei Torah (words of Torah) about the upcoming parsha (weekly Torah portion), and callers trying to answer questions posed by the host about Chanukah. When I tuned in  last night people were calling  in their answers to questions such as

“What’s the reason why Chanukah is celebrated for eight rather than seven nights?  Since the jug of oil found with the Kohen Gadol‘s (High Priest) seal had enough oil to burn for one night then the miracle was only about the extra seven nights.” (See bottom of post for answer.)

What a pleasure!

This past Sunday evening I met a wonderful woman at the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum, Sharon Altshul, who takes pictures of what’s really happening in Jerusalem and posts them on her website The Real Jerusalem Streets. Despite what the mainstream media chooses to headline, there’s always a different picture that they haven’t shown you (usually on purpose) and she proudly tells the world (her readership spans the globe) about the other,  real story that is happening here.  This is what’s happening in Jerusalem around Chanukah time:

10 Signs that Chanukah is Coming

It can be spelled differently in English every year,
but the Chanukah season in Jerusalem is very consistent.
There are 10 sure signs that Chanukah is on its way.

1. The piles of sufganiot in all bakeries

begin to disappear at an astonishing rate.

2. Street decorations are up

Click here for  8 more signs that Chanukah is coming to Jerusalem.

Answer to question above – When we pour  water from one container into the next, all the water is transferred; however, when we pour oil from one container to the next there is always some that remains behind. So, even though the oil in the jug was enough to burn for one night, when it was poured into the Menorah some oil remained in the jug. Therefore, there was not enough oil in the Menorah for even one night. The fact that the Menorah stayed lit that first night was a miracle as well!

 * Sufganiyot – donuts cooked in oil
** with thanks to Stlyrics.com
 

Oh, It’s a Happy Chanukah In Israaaael….

HAPPY CHANUKAH !
CHAG CHANUKAH SAMEACH!

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Anti-Semitism in the United States?

Is there anti-semitism in the United States? The assumed answer is no, but one should never rely on assumptions. Paying attention to the trends around the world and to what’s transpiring in the U.S.,  I see the writing on the wall.

The topic of anti-semitism in the United States came up in a  conversation I had yesterday with Noa, a secular Israeli. At the conclusion of our meeting to discuss the possible assistance her organization can provide for the business I am developing ( check out my new blog Business Confab) she asked me why we made aliyah. She could understand the toshav chozer – the Israeli ex-patriate who moves back to Israel, and she could understand people who move to Israel from countries where there is anti-semitism or lack of freedom, but from the United States?

The topic of anti-semitism has been on my radar since well before we made aliyah, as I saw it rearing its ugly head again in Europe. In March of 2009, I watched a video which has been posted on many sites, including Israel Matzav under the heading “Where are the police?” ( click here  to view). The video shows people ransacking a French supermarket, wearing green t-shirts with the words Boycott Israel on them, removing all Israeli goods from the shelves. Not one person — not the store managers, not the other shoppers, no one — dared to stop them.  People just stood and watched. Perhaps they thought there were too many of them to fight… but, apparently, no one thought to call the police, either.

Naomi Ragen’s recent email newsletter where she copied an article by David J. Rusin of www.islamist-watch.org entitled The Slow-Motion Exodus of European Jews  also highlights the terrible situation which is again rising in Europe. Rusin starts off with the opinion of Dutch politician and former EU commissioner Frits Bolkestein regarding Orthodox Jews in his country [can the same situation for non-religious Jews be far behind? – c.l.] who believes that

there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of the “anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan descent, whose numbers keep growing.”

The author then goes on to describe the situations in  a number of other European countries from which Jews are exiting and/or encountering anti-semitism on a regular basis. Among them are  Sweden, France, UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Austria.

Echoing this same sentiment about Dutch Jews is Guilio Meotti in his January 17, 2011, opinion piece on Israel National News entitled Jews Must Flee Holland in 2011. He cites the failure of  Dutch multi-culturalism for the rising tide of anti-semitism. Perhaps the scariest part is in his second paragraph :

…to highlight the complaint of a Dutch journalist, Paul Andersson Toussaint: “Antisemitism in Holland is again salonfähig”. This word means socially acceptable. 

 Post-Holocaust Europe is no more; the anti-semitism that we thought had disappeared was really simmering below. The argument generally made is that it’s really the large Muslim population dominating many European countries that is responsible for the situation. But a country and people that allows this to happen is responsible just the same.

So why did we make aliyah? Noa thought that perhaps it’s the U.S. economy which is motivation for many to leave… Mostly, however, we didn’t leave the U.S. per se – we made aliyah so that we could  live in our land and fulfill our Jewish destiny as I discussed in my first blog post A Jew in Context.

But, despite the fact that most Americans probably are not anti-semitic and  would be revolted by it, there have been increasing anti-semitic incidents in the United States (and in Canada) as well as rising anti-semitism on college campuses; Jews have generally been afraid to “make waves” even in the U.S. so as not to engender anti-semitism. So what about anti-semitism in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, in this medina shel chesed – this nation of kindness –  as Orthodox Jews in the U.S. often refer to it? I referred her to Caroline Glick’s website and her most recent column, which was originally published in the Jerusalem Post, Israel as the banana republic. She discusses two documents which she says “…  indicate that in certain quarters of the American government Israel is viewed as at best a banana republic and at worst an enemy of the US. ”  The first, published last Wednesday in The Washington Times,  is the 2004 FBI  27-page search warrant affidavit used to target then-senior AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen. The second, from Wikileaks, is a 2008 cable signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, under the Bush administration, directing US officials to spy on Israel. The FBI affidavit, you might be surprised to discover, makes it clear that they had no reason to suspect Steve Rosen of any wrongdoing, yet they followed him for five years and indicted him, destroying his career, his reputation and that of his collegue Keith Weissman, the reputation of AIPAC, the State of Israel, and its American Jewish supporters. Of the Wikileaks document Caroline says:

Just days before the 2008 presidential elections, the secretary of state instructed US diplomats in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA to conduct a massive espionage operation against Israel.

Anti-semitism in the United States?  Take an honest  look before you decide.



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