Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Children of Southern Israel

My cousin Danielle from Israel posted this video on YouTube.  The children in the video were evacuated from their homes in Southern Israel but were clearly affected by the situation.
Even if the rockets were to stop today, the lingering trauma of this wave of terror will be felt in Israel for a long time.  God Help Us!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Music of Israel's Enemies

The Middle East Media Research Institute (memri.org) posted a shocking war song that was posted on Youtube this weekend.  
Memri translated the lyrics which I posted below and can be found on Memri's website.  

The entire song was shocking, but one line in particular really stood out.  
"Oh you settler, with your sidelocks, in your shelter you cower with fear."My entire people cry out loud:"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
This line includes three distinct groups:  Settlers, people with "sidelocks" and Tel Aviv.  

In Israel, when the term "settlers" is used it usually refers to Israelis who live in the settlements beyond the pre-1967 borders.  These "settlemnts" are considered by some people in Israel and around the world to be the main obstacle to a peace settlement between Israel and the the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, Israel's second largest city, is not considered by Israel to be a "settlement" or an "occupied territory."  In every proposed peace plan Tel Aviv is part of the Jewish state.  This video is just another indication that Israel's enemies view all Israelis as "settlers" and all of Israel as one "settlement."

But more shocking is the line about "sidelocks."  Their image of the Jew is the traditional image of the European Jew in chasidish garb with a black hat, long black coat, and sidelocks around his ears.  In truth, that caricature can only be used to describe at most 10% of Israel's population.  Further, politically Hareidim represent the most extreme leftist views on Jewish sovereignty in Israel and historically the Hareidi population opposed the use of force to establish a Jewish state.  

But the people that made and identify with this music video are not interested in what political, religious, or other views a Jew may hold.  Their objective is to kill Jews.

On Chanukah we celebrate the victory over the Greeks who wanted to destroy Judaism.  Like other enemies in history, their objective was to impose their beliefs on the Jews through force.  There conflict with the Jews was a conflict of ideas.

But Israel's current conflict is not predicated on ideas. Hamas's hatred of Jews is just that - hatred of Jews.  How is Israel supposed to negotiate with such an enemy?  What can Israel offer Hamas that will placate them other than national suicide?

The response to the video - or lack there of - is even more shocking than the content.  If a Jewish group were to produce a similar video about killing Arabs the outrage from the Israeli government and from Jewish groups around the world would be deafening.  

But from this video, we have instead a deafening silence.  

I hope that we will soon see outrage unleashed against this vile, racist, hatred.  But I am not holding my breath.

Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv

"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv and frighten the Zionists.
"The more you build it the more we will destroy it.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"You need to know, oh occupier, that the Palestinians won’t be humiliated.
"We don't want no truce or solution.
"All we want is to strike Tel Aviv.
"We will strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Oh oppressive Israeli army, you can take on anything but Gaza.
"Here comes the decisive response:
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.

"You sent a bomber to shell us neighborhood by neighborhood,
"But we downed the airplane.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Here is the breaking news:
"We shot down the airplane, and the pilot is missing.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"We have downed their airplane, and filled up their air raid shelters.
"Oh Palestinians, you can be proud.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv. 

"Oh you settler, with your sidelocks, in your shelter you cower with fear.
"My entire people cry out loud:
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"After the raid, after the strike – Netanyahu, you son-of-a-$@#$%,
"How come you are hiding in the shelter?
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Netanyahu, son-of-a-whatever, we will wipe out your entire army.
"You can stick your operation up your ass.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Oh Gulf states, shut up.  All you are good at is convening conferences.

"Those lowlifes are not the same blood as me.
"We want to strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"We want to strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"The Gulf states and all their billions are tough only with NATO's support.
"Their statements are of no use to us.
"We want to strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"We want to strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"We don't want no truce or bargain.
"We have sworn in Gaza only to wage resistance. 
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Strike, oh Qassam missile, do not let the Zionists sleep.
"Even if they beg for mercy – be sure not to show Tel Aviv any mercy.
"Don't show Tel Aviv any mercy.
"Oh Fajr missile, explode in the Knesset and the army base.
"Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar – terrorize Tel Aviv.
"Blow up, blow up Tel Aviv.
"Upon hearing the air-raid sirens, Akko and the valleys sing out: 
"Oh Arafat, your people are striking a blow at Tel Aviv.
"Let's strike a blow at Tel Aviv."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A mother's prayer from Israel

Another piece from my cousin Danielle Rubin from Israel.  (First published on CNN iReport)
 Imagine the following scenario.
It's seven a.m. and you have just finished dressing your kids for school. Your oldest son is busy jumping on your bed, the baby is whimpering because he's ready for another nap, and your two-year-old daughter is showing off her pearly-white teeth, complimenting herself very loudly on a brush well done. You and your husband are debating who should drop off which child and when. Between all the jumping, whining and giggling you wish you could stay in bed and didn't have to drive to work. Just a normal day, right?
Well, not quite. Because then the siren goes off. Not quite sure how sirens fit in to this mundane story? You see, in my world, these sirens exist. They warn us when a rocket has been launched from Gaza, granting us forty seconds to run for shelter, forty seconds to grab our children and run for our lives.
We all hear it together and we know the drill well: last night, shortly after nine o'clock, there was another missile attack. Last week we had two attacks. The kids know what to do. My four-year-old son was in the protected area within seconds. I could have sworn he got from one room to the next in a leap. I grab my daughter, who has a tendency to freeze when she hears the siren, and my husband takes the baby, whose sobs have in the meantime turned into wails. We crouch down together against the wall and listen as the siren dies out, anticipating the boom. But the silence is broken first when my son speaks.
" I-will-lift-up-mine-eyes-unto-the-hills-from-whence-cometh-my-help ." It's Psalm 121.  Me-ayin ya-vo ez-ri . I know the words well. But the voice I do not recognize. Half-quivering, half-confident, I sense in his recitation a sound no parent should hear in their child's voice.
I sense fear.
" My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth ." I don't even hear the boom, which is surprising since the rocket landed just  two blocks away, demolishing a house, causing much destruction to the neighborhood, endangering the lives of dozens who were waiting for the bus to go to work or school (26 people were treated for shock). All I hear is the voice of a child, desperately trying to shed some light, gain some understanding of his chaotic reality.
" The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand ." He's four years old. He doesn't understand the concept of death. He doesn't know a thing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has never heard of terrorism, of shooting unarmed civilians day and night.
But he knows fear. He lives it.
Dear God, please let tomorrow be a normal day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ze'ev Jabotinsky is alive and well in Nebraska!

Omaha, Nebraska is currently the largest official chapter of the Betar youth movement in North America.

Betar was originally started in 1923 in Riga, Latvia by Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

For the last 90 years Betar has inspired Jewish youth throughout the world and was extremely influential in the lives of great Jewish leaders, including a number of Israeli prime ministers.

Betar is still strong in Australia, South Africa, and South America, but has been in serious decline in the united states - until recently.

After learning about Jabotinsky and his philosophy there was interest in starting a Betar chapter here in Omaha.  A new member who just moved here told us that when he grew up in Australia he was very active in Betar.  He contacted the office in Israel and connected us with Yarden Tenenbaum, the new director of international programs for Betar international.  He was recently charged with the task of jump starting Betar in North America.

By coincidence he was making his first trip to the US so we invited him to add Omaha to his itinerary.

Yarden came to Omaha and he met with some of our active teenagers. They immediately recognized historic the significance of the opportunity of being the group to revive Betar in the US.  By founding the Omaha Betar chapter they are attaching themselves to the group that played a pivotal role in the formation of the state of Israel and the modern Israeli army.  They would responsible for carrying on the Betar legacy that includes Jewish heroes Zev Jabotinsky, Yosef TrumpledorMordechai AnielewiczMenachem Begin, Dov Gruner, and many more.
Two teenagers were elected as the head of our chapter and are currently effectively the leaders of all of Betar North America.

In the last 90 years Betar has been at the center of some of the most significant events in modern Jewish history.

  • Members of Betar were leaders of Jewish resistance movements against the Nazis, including those who lead the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
  • Members of Betar were instrumental in curtailing Arab attacks against Jews in Palestine in the 20s and 30s.
  • Betar members were instrumental in smuggling Jewish refugees into Israel before 1948.
  • Betar members formed the Irgun which resisted the British in pre -1948 Palestine and eventually merged with the Haganah to form the Israel Defense Force
Today, thankfully we do not face the challenges that our predecessors faced.  But Jabotinsky's philosophy is still relevant, and many of his values such as dignity, discipline, and Jewish pride are sometimes severely neglected.  
Our group had its first meeting on Sunday.  We read some of the history of the movement and started discussions about how Betar will be relevant to Omaha youth.  

Unfortunately, today's Jewish youth movements in North America are divided by religious denominations.  I cannot think of an existing group that appeals equally to Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and non-affiliated.  

Jabotinsky himself was not observant, but his movement was not hostile to religion and in fact many observant people filled the ranks of Betar.  Betar just may be the one group that can unify all Jewish youth in North America and rally them around core Jewish values, love of the Jewish people, God, and country.  

I hope Yarden is successful at starting other chapters in North America.  
For more information or if you want to start a movement where you live you can check out www.betar.org.il or e-mail yarden@betar.org.il

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Long Island rabbis response to Sandy

My cousin, rabbi Heshie Billet, is a rabbi in Woodmere on Long Island. He sent the following letter to his congregation after the storm on Sunday.

Dear Friends

We hope everyone is OK in body and spirit. We tried to walk to Shul this morning. But we did not succeed. We like many of you have been flooded, lost both our cars, lost our power, many of our basement valuables like our books, photo albums, computer, and things on our entrance floor. Our good memories are engraved in the VCR in our minds.

That said, we are in very good spirits. We are fine. We had a minyan on our block this morning, we have food and water, and we have life and B"H we are healthy.

We have no flood insurance. But we are upbeat about the prospects of replacing what we can.

In our family we have a slogan about material losses: "it is only money". We learned the hard and painful way that there are things far more precious than possessions. Material items are a transient gift of the Ribbono Shel Olam. We cherish our family, our community (YIW, all the other Shuls and schools), our friends and the privilege to be part of Am Yisrael. So keep a positive spirit. This too shall pass.

We will see you in Shul as soon as we get a row boat. Does anyone know if Sandy is male or female?