Monday, July 14, 2014

Protecting Our Edges

Protective Edge is the name of Israel’s newest attempt to limit the effect of militant Islamic terrorism on her citizens.  It begs the question, why are we so intent on taking the defensive?  Why are we hesitant to be the aggressor, when clearly we have the military strength to end the conflict?

Torah does give us many examples of standing against our enemies and defending ourselves.

Judges 7:9 “That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand.”

Psalm 110:1 A Psalm of David. The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!

Nehemiah 4:14 "And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.’”

We don’t hesitate because we’re weak, or naive.  It’s not because we’re afraid of what the world might say.  The world, at large, doesn’t think highly of us no matter what choice we make.  So we must make our choices based on our culture and who we are.

Who then are we?  We are the ONLY Jewish state in the world.  We must act in accordance with the tenants of our culture, and yes of our faith.  G-d called us and we answered.  He gave us a choice and we accepted and pledged ourselves, in all our future generations, to adhere to His laws.  I use the present tense “we” to describe that incident at HarSinai because I do truly believe that somehow all of us were present in some manner to either accede or decline that invitation.   (Granted there are many Jews who don’t agree with me, perhaps think I am deluded or my views archaic.  Still, I’m entitled to my views.)  When we accepted those laws we took upon ourselves a burden to act appropriately before G-d.  It really doesn’t matter then, in the long run, what the rest of the world thinks.

A clear tenant we take from our culture is that life is sacred.  All life is sacred.  It is a gift from G-d to all His creation.  So when we are faced with this dreadful circumstance of living in a neighborhood where everyone else believes our life is forfeit simply because we are Jews, well in the way of Tevye the dairyman, ‘tis a troublement.

The Torah tells us not to rejoice in our enemy’s downfall.  Why is that?!  How can that even be reasonable when that enemy wants to take our very lives?!  Ah, it is because life is a GIFT, not an entitlement.  We must all stand humbly before the Creator and remember, whether our neighbors believe it or not, that G-d gave them the same gift of life that He gave us.  We must stop and consider carefully our actions in light of this understanding.
Leviticus 19:2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your G-d am holy.”

Our burden, as Jews, is to act appropriately before the world so that they might see G-d’s holiness.  It’s true that most of the world has a hard time recognizing G-d’s holiness.  Whether they recognize it has no bearing on our obligation.  Our people have survived for thousands of years, against all odds, in defiance of all logic, because G-d set us apart.  Isaiah 42:6 “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and have taken hold of thy hand, and kept thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations.”  This is our purpose and why our nation has survived.  Who or what would we be if we abandoned this task?

So, the sad news I must share with you, my fellow Jews; my fellow Israelis, is that we must struggle every day.  When we face our enemies we must be filled with sorrow for their choices.  When we defend ourselves we must be cautious to avoid taking more lives than necessary to defend our own.  We must do everything in our power to protect the life of that 6 year old Arab boy sitting in his living room above the cache of weapons his father has stored in the basement.  We must be strong of heart, and fierce in our determination to do the most right thing, in the most right way, before G-d that we can do.

It will not make sense to the world.  Our Arab neighbors will wrongly interpret this as weakness.  But we know that it takes more strength and courage to make these choices.  We know that this path is much harder than bombing Gaza into dust.  We know that at the end of the day we can not only look at ourselves in the mirror, we can stand before G-d.

May we not give G-d any reason not to stand with us.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Soldier Son

I wish you could meet our soldier son.  He is the most amazing person.  Of course all mothers know their children are amazing.  I have 5 other children and they are all amazing.  Each of them, at different times, have stepped out and made some jaw dropping statement, or accomplished some mind boggling deed that has left me, as their parent, in absolute awe.  So today it is his turn, my soldier son.

I feel the need to somehow share this with the rest of the world, not to say – be proud of me, or be proud of him.  I want the world to see the humility of this soldier and thereby come to understand our conflict in a better light.

While the world is focused on soccer and the World Cup it seems very few are aware of what’s going on in our small nation.  I live in Israel.  This summer has been very dramatic for us.  A few weeks ago three yeshiva students aged 16, 16 and 19 were kidnapped and brutally murdered by Arabs.  After their bodies were discovered a young Arab boy was also kidnapped and murdered, this time by Jews.  Horrible, it’s all wrong.  Children should never be targets like this.  Our entire nation mourns these deaths.  We as a nation condemn all the murderers, no matter their heritage or faith.
    
How do we mourn these deaths?  We go to hear speakers and biblical teachings, we visit the grieving families, we do works of charity – and give to charities in the children’s names, we pray – a lot.  How do the Arabs mourn death?  Well they rioted, threw Molotov cocktails at police, threw stones at passing cars, destroyed shops and the light rail system in their own neighborhoods while chanting “Death to Jews”.  They actually celebrated the murder of the three Yeshiva boys, passing out candy and teaching their children to hold up a three finger salute as some sort of victory sign.  Then they started shooting rockets at Israel.

I think the world at large is not clear what this rocket barrage is like.  The rockets are specifically aimed at civilian population centers, shopping areas, schools and hospitals.  We have an alert system that lets us know when a rocket is incoming to our area.  In the south there is barely 15 seconds warning to get to a bomb shelter.  Certainly not enough time to gather multiple children!  If some building or business is destroyed or, God Forbid, someone is injured or killed the Arabs rejoice.   In the past week over 300 rockets were fired on civilian targets in Israel.  They don’t stop overnight, but continue 24/7.  Who can sleep, who can work, how can our children just be children?

If we respond by shooting rockets back at the exact location of the original rocket fire we are vilified by the world.  Sometimes there are civilians injured when we return fire because the Arabs purposely use civilian centers from which to launch their rockets. They use civilian human shields, knowingly endangering their own wives and children.  We often target specific military installations, weapons storage facilities, tunnels used for sneaking into Israel or hiding weapons manufacturing.  Our military intelligence is excellent and we know who is responsible for ordering the rocket fire against us.  So we target those terrorists and their homes.  When we intend to fire on their home we call them and warn them!  We drop leaflets to let the civilian population know exactly when we will target a specific area.  We do everything in our power to avoid civilian casualties. 

Did you know that we send aid to Gaza weekly?  Did you know that we provide FREE electricity, water, gasoline and food to Gaza?  They claim to be oppressed, and they are.   But it is not Israel that is oppressing them.  It is their own Islamic leadership that oppresses them.  The billions of dollars in aid that is sent to the PA is not given to the average Arab.  But it is paid as salaries to terrorists after they kill a Jew and are arrested and jailed.  The aid is used to support the terrorist infrastructure, even to buy weapons.

Do a little research and you will see that the supposed oppression by Israel is a sham.  Most of the pictures presented on the internet as Israel’s influence in Gaza are actually pictures of the wounded and casualties in Syria and Iraq.  The BBC recently did an expose on this; you can find it easily by searching on the internet.  Israel is an open, free and democratic society.  People are not discriminated against because of their race, color, creed or sex.  There are hundreds of thousands of Arabs living peacefully in Israel, enjoying a higher standing of living than myself!  But Hamas, the PA, Islamic Jihad, and the many other terror organizations here lie because it suits their needs.  Their only defined goal is to free the world of Jews and destroy the only Jewish state in the world.  They say this boldly in their charters and the world chooses not to see.

I tell you all this so that you can understand the world we live in, that my soldier son lives in.  Did I mention he is only 20 years old, and has been in the army for only a year?  We hadn’t been able to speak with him recently because of the security necessary to protect his Army unit.  But last night he received permission to call home.  We talked for almost two hours.  He has become a philosopher in the last year.  He loves his family and friends fiercely; loves his army unit fiercely; he loves Israel fiercely.  He trusts G-d to lead him, teach him, and safeguard him.  He carries a gun and knows how to use it, he is a good shot.  He told me he knows he will do everything in his power to keep the members of his unit safe.  But he asks us all to pray for him, because he doesn’t want to have to use his gun.  He fears what taking another life will do to him.  It doesn’t matter to whom that other life belongs; he knows that is crossing a line.  He says that life is sacred, created by G-d, given as a gift to all humanity.  He wants G-d’s wisdom as he faces those who have pledged their lives to take his.  He does not pray for victory, he prays for wisdom.

My soldier son was friends with one of the murdered yeshiva boys, the 19 year old.  He saw the boy after their bodies were found.  He asked me, why is it so many hate us just because we are Jews?  Who can answer that question?  There is no answer.  Seeing his friend’s body did not fill him with hate for the murderers.  It filled him with sorrow for the future his friend would not have, and the joy and goodness the world lost when these boys were murdered.

So I ask you all to pray for my amazing soldier son.  Pray for all the Israeli soldiers.  When you pray keep in mind please that my son is really not unusual at all.  His philosophy embodies Judaism.  We as a nation struggle with these issues.  We believe all life is sacred.  That is why “Shock and Awe” is not the name of our offensive in Gaza.  The name is Defensive Edge, because we only aim to defend our own lives.  I will leave you with Bibi’s famous quote;

If the Arabs were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war.  If Israel were to lay down theirs, there would be no Israel

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The War, the Elections, and the Rain

I seems I always start a new post with "I haven't written in a long time".  And here I am again.  Life takes over and it seems I either never have the time, or never make the time, to write about life in the land.  So today I'll take a little time and give another glimpse.

We've been home, here in Israel, about 4 and a half years now.  In that time we've moved 5 times and I've held 5 different jobs. Tzachi has finished school and is looking towards the Army.  JDC is working hard and looking for more work, Ari is wishing his lessons were in English even though he speaks Hebrew better than all of us.  I won't deny it's hard to make it here.  We struggle with too much month at the end of our money still, every month.  But we all still love it here.

We just had an escalation entitled "Amud Annan" (the Pillar of Cloud that lead us through the desert after the exodus from Egypt), with Hamas in Gaza that lasted, well really 12 days.  Officially it's 8 days, but those residents of Southern Israel will happily count the number of days at the beginning before we started firing back.  We kept the TVs tuned to a special "Shabbat Radio Station" over the Shabbat of the escalation to hear when the attack sirens went off, so we knew what areas to pray for, and if the sirens would come in our region.  It seems we would stop and listen to the sirens every 45 minutes or so, in the south, in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, everywhere but here.

There was a terrorist bombing on a bus in Tel Aviv (in case you didn't note how different that was, the bus bombings during the 2nd Intifada were in Jerusalem) and two of the terrorists responsible were caught right here in our little mall in Modi'in.  Seems at least one of them was "local", though no Arabs live in our city, I guess they can still come in and hold jobs in the mall.

Most Israeli's don't agree with the ceasefire, me included.  Though I was not in favor of a ground incursion into Gaza.  I was in favor of a serious "Shock and Awe" campaign like the US waged in Iraq.    Most Israeli's, me included, believe it's time to take Gaza back and tell the terrorists they can go live in Egypt, or Iran, or someplace else because we are just fed up with their lies and propaganda, their constant rocket attacks on our civilians, their lack of caring for the lives of even their own civilians, their preschools of hatred.  Well, I could go on, but I won't.

Today is the Likud primaries.  It's like the Republican or Democratic primaries.  Except those we elect for Likud will sit in the Knesset (like the house or senate) based on how many seats that party gets in the general election next January 22nd.  The PM candidate whose party gets the most votes will be the Prime Minister.  We don't have a separate vote for each Knesset seat.  Whoever wins the party chair then selects among the others elected which will hold certain portfolios - like the US Cabinet.  It's a little more complicated than US politics, but likely just as underhanded and corrupt.

Of course again, I am voting for Moshe Feiglin and his Jewish Leadership block in Likud.  Last time around he should have held a Knesset seat, but Bibi managed to swindle him out of it by some fancy, and not quite legal, tricks to push him just below the number of available seats that Likud won last election.  This year Moshe is getting even stronger support, and most Likud voters are very disillusioned with Bibi, who says all the right things, but then agrees to a cease-fire with Hamas.  Actually most voters are disillusioned period, for  likely the first time since Oslo was signed is the majority of the population ready to say "Oslo is a failure, there can never be land for peace."

We look around at all our neighbors and the tension keeps escalating.  Any one who says there isn't going to be a war is simply not looking at the region realistically.  Turkey is openly advocating Sharia Law and condemning Israel for the recent escalation with Hamas.  Syria's secular government (albeit dispicable despot) is hanging on by a thread fighting against several insurgent groups, who have recently signed a pact to cooperate to overthrow Assad.  The majority of the fighters are Jihadist Muslims, even the US State Department was helping to recruit them (in case you didn't know what the Ambassador was doing in Benghazi before he was murdered).  Egypt has elected the Muslim Brotherhood to rule their country and a constitution comprised of Sharia Law has been presented.  Morsi just gave himself dictatorial powers, and they're the open conduit for Iranian money and weapons into Hamas in Gaza.  Jordan is on the brink of economic collapse, the oil pipeline from Egypt that was blown up in the "Arab Spring" has never been rebuilt and so new oil is now much more expensive.  Riots in the Street, etc.  So today Iran pledged free oil to Jordan if they will open new trade and "religious tourism" agreements with Iran.  Hmm, wonder who those religious tourists might be???  Hizbullah in Lebanon is ramping up their war technologies, vowing to be ready for the next war with Israel (that we're not interested in having by the way).  Iran, well, we all know what's going on with Iran.

But stop, because this is what the world is doing.  What is HaShem doing?  Well, it's raining in Israel.  Since the ceasefire it's been raining in Israel.  Day after day.  The sun comes out, and then the rain clouds come and it rains.  Perhaps that doesn't mean anything to you, but we here in the land know it is HaShem blessing us, renewing us, reminding us that HE remembers His covenant with us.  So while we think we know what's going on, really it's just time to stop and pray.  Thank you HaShem for bringing me home to this wondrous place.  Thank you HaShem that my daughter and her husband now live here in the land! (Wow, what a miracle that is!!)  Thank you HaShem that You know the minds of humankind, yet Your plans will not falter, and Your promises will abide.  Thank you HaShem that we live in a land that loves life, because You love us.

So though I may offer savage opinions on what's going on here or there.  And moan and groan about, well almost everything. Don't be fooled, because I've just become an Israeli.  But I haven't forgotten who is really in control.  And I haven't forgotten to Whom I owe everything.  And I am certainly grateful for my wonderful husband, and wonderful children, and adorable beautiful amazing wondrous grandchildren (whom I miss more than breathe itself! - may you all be with us soon Amen!)  Tomorrow the sun will come up and I will wake to another beautiful day in this amazing place.

To my friends and family, pray for the peace of Israel, we all appreciate your prayers!  Finally, pray that HaShem may be glorified.