Sunday, April 29, 2007

You Too Can Fly the Flag

If you’re ever in Israel around Independence Day time you’ll see cars on the streets sporting little Israeli flags on their windows.

And many have US flags too!

Kids stand at traffic lights selling these flags to patriotic motorists at 5 shekels a piece (just over a dollar these days)...

But this year there’s another flag for sale:
“Don’t Let our Apathy Kill Them!”

A blue and white design with a picture of the three soldiers kidnapped last summer:
Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit.

For the last few months there’s been incessant talk about possible prisoner exchanges and imminent release, at least for Shalit. The others are rarely mentioned.

But as we write, who knows how they are, where they are and what kind of suffering they’re going through?

Who can understand the pain and anguish of their families as they begin another day of worry, uncertainty and helplessness?

It is our duty, and the duty of any civilized human being, not to remain apathetic...

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” said Edmund Burke in the 18th Century.

Everyone reading this is a “good man/woman”
I’m sure.
NEVER say “but what can I do?”
Everyone can do something.
Even if it’s a daily prayer...

Keeping the pictures of these three young men on your wall...

Thinking of their poor families when you sit down to dinner with yours...

Or if you’re more actively inclined, then petitioning your government to do something about it...

Writing to the UN, the Red Cross or other organizations who may have a way of getting through the evil...

Organizing human rights demonstrations...

This is not just another news story about three men, Israel and the terror organizations.

It’s part of the universal war of evil against good.

And that’s your war too...

So whatever you can do, DO IT!

Fly the flag.

“Don’t Let Our Apathy Kill Them.”

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Remembrance and Independence

Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims falls on Monday,
April 22, immediately followed by its 59th Independence Day.

Once again, it’s that time of year,Where smile is tinged with tear.

But that’s the life of the Israeli, the Jew;
Times of joy, and sadness too.
Always together, always hand-in-hand,
Rolling, rolling... like tides across the sand.

In Israel the union is especially acute,
One minute they shake; the next they shoot.
But such is life here, and so it looks ahead,
For us to live, Some have to stop. Dead.

Today we remember those who gave their lives for us to live;
Those who had so much life in them, so much left to give.
They fell in ’48, they fell in ’56,
’67, ’73, ’82, 2006...

Bricks in the building of a country, Seeds in the sowing of a land.
But how much will be left underground, Before the building will finally stand?

The pain is felt across the divides; United. Silence. Tears.
Memories are clear and fresh, Despite the months and years.

For some it’s past, for most it’s here, The reality of Israel today.
Still fighting for its existence, With a heavy price to pay.

And then we climb, up half a flagpole, The tears drip into cheers,
And optimistic as we are The bloodstains turn to beers.

Israel is here to stay. Israel is strong and brave.
Israel is hi-tec, cool, Israel’s on a wave.

So from the depths of sorrow, We celebrate our home,
By banging plastic hammers And spraying shaving foam!

Is that how we rejoiced in ’48? Is that how we show our thanks?
To 18-year-olds who fell in battle, Or burnt to death in tanks?

Do they teach in our schools, The art of how to appreciate,
Or do they assume you’ll find it out When it really is too late?

It seems that that’s what happens When we stand on Remembrance Day
We simply appreciate life, The life that’s gone away.

And the switch seems all too hard; To value our own life in minutes, and days,
So we just go fry up steaks And clog up all the freeways.

Yet there are those who offer thanks to God For giving us a land,
And those who study ancient texts About His outstretched hand.

Israel is a country of life and death, Cries and graves a national chore…

We know we’re prepared to die for it,
But what are we living for?

"Flagging Patriotism" on Israel's 59th?

Less than three days before Israel's 59th independence anniversary, we finally put some flags out on our balcony, courtesy of a local newspaper. In many neighborhoods there appears to be a marked absence of flags and banners that are usually hung out in the days preceding Israel's annual national holiday; and from recent articles and news commentaries, this 'phenomena' seems to be a nation-wide reality.

More than eight months following the end of last summer's war in Lebanon, and with an atmosphere rife with political controversy and scandal, it's no wonder that fewer symbols of national pride are being displayed by a public that is becoming more and more disillusioned with what is transpiring – especially among the country's leadership. To give you an idea about what has brought all of this on, a quick survey highlight the following problems that Israelis presently have to deal with:

1. The President of the State has been indicted for charges of rape and other forms of
sexual misconduct.

2. The Prime Minister is under investigation for his handling of the war, as well as a
number of financial dealings involving properties and other investments.

3. The Defense Minister, chosen for a position he was completely unqualified for, is
under fire and many have called for his resignation.

4. The Finance Minister is now under increasing investigation for allegations of both
Grand Theft and fraud, with "clarion calls" for his dismissal.

5. More and more Israelis, especially aged ones (particularly Holocaust survivors) are
living under the poverty line and cannot even buy enough food to survive. This
also includes one in every four Israeli children.

6. The three Israeli captive soldiers are still unaccounted for, and the present
government appears unwilling or incapable of securing their release.

7. It was revealed this weekend that emigration (Yeridah) is now exceeding
immigration (Aliyah) for the first time in over twenty years. And this is despite an
increase in new immigrants (Olim) from France and other European countries.

Need one say more…..

It's not the first time that following a major military conflict that feelings of dismay and lack of patriotism have been evident in the Jewish State. What makes this year's phenomena even more striking however, are the other problems that go along with the aftermath of the Lebanon II war.

Israel's growing economic affluence (for some, that is), largely brought on by the "get rich quick" attitudes inspired by the technological boom, have given many people the economic freedom and mobility that enables them to relocate their entire business venture by simply packing their 'laptop' into a suitcase and boarding an international flight to American cities like Boston or Santa Clara California. Zionistic calls to 'settle the land' are becoming fewer and fewer, particularly following the mass disengagement from settlements in Gaza and planned 'resettlements' from large sections of the West Bank.

Though many of the 'Yordim' or emigrants are ones who came to Israel from Russia and other former Soviet Union republics, they as a whole are intelligent, highly educated people, whose skills are very needed to ensure Israel's technological edge over her adversaries. With countries like Iran on the verge of becoming nuclear powers, this 'brain drain' is even more critical, and could even be fatal in next few years.

We must therefore find ways to correct the many problems facing our country; and this can well begin with coming together as a nation and showing a bit more patriotism – even if it is only the placing of flags on our cars and on our balconies.

Remember – we don't have another (Jewish) country.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Remembering the Dead – and the Living: Yom HaZicharon, 2007

Israel prepares to honor it's war dead and those killed in acts of terror at Remembrance Day 2007, also known as Yom Zicharon. Coming just months after last summer's Lebanon II war, the people of Israel have those killed in this unfortunate episode to add to many otherswho have fallen in battle or were killed by acts of terror since the founding of the state. Also to be remembered are the three captured Israeli soldiers: Eldad Regev, Ehud Goldwasser, and Gilad Schalit. Schalit was captured in late June when his patrol unit was attacked on the border with Gaza; and Regev and Goldwasser were captured by the Hezbollah July 12 on Israel's northern border with Lebanon - an act which sparked a war that ended more than a month later with more than 150 Israelis killed, including 38 civilians from Ketusha rocket attacks.

Since the early 1980's and the war known as Operation Peace for Galilee, or Lebanon I, a number of Israeli soldiers have been reported as either missing in action or captured. So far, none of these soldiers have returned alive, and many, including Air Force Flight Navigator Ron Arad, have been missing for years. It was only in the Yom Kippur War that some captured prisoners were returned alive, many after spending several months as prisoners in either Egyptian or Syrian jails and prison camps.

The reality of this past and recent scenario is that Israeli soldiers captured alive do not appear to have much likelihood of ever coming home again to their families; alive that is.

Recent optimism concerning a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians for the release of Corporal Gilad Schalit seems to be constantly frustrated as demands made by the Hamas dominated Palestinian Authority for the inclusion of prisoners with "blood on their hands" are just not acceptable by Israel. In regards to the other two being held by the Hezbollah, their spiritual leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, knows how to play on the emotions of concerned relatives as they did several years back when the remains of three Israeli soldiers, and a reserve officer named Elkanah Tennenbaum, were exchanged for more than 1,000 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

On Sunday night, April 22, Yom Zicharon will begin in Israel with a special memorial ceremony at Har Herzl in Jerusalem. While special remembrance flames will be lit there, and at numerous ceremonies around the country, we must all pause to say a prayer for the three captive soldiers and hope that they will soon be released and back with their loving families.

That's what Yom Zicharon is all about: not just to memorialize the dead, but to pray for the living as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Holocaust Choice – Man or Beast?

Monday, April 16 is Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel.

62 years later and the questions remain as fresh as ever.

Yes we can spend the day discussing and philosophizing about God’s whereabouts between 1939-1945 or – for that matter – Man’s whereabouts too.

But will that get us anywhere?

Because if we conclude that God’s to blame, then we must surely conclude he’s also to blame for establishing the State of Israel three years after the war.

And if we think Man’s to blame,
then what’s new? He’s also to blame
for Somalia, Serbia, 9/11, Iraq and any
other major disaster in history.

All of which just leaves us more frustrated, confused and depressed.
And sometimes there just are no answers.
As a wise man once said,” Faith begins where human intelligence ends.”

So how can we take a positive, practical message from Holocaust Day 2007?

The Holocaust teaches us that human beings have the potential to rise to the heights of angels...
Or plunge to the depths of depravity.
62 years later, we have the same choice.
Each and every one of us.

As we live our lives, we have that choice every single day.

Are you going to fall victim to your basest desires or are you going to follow your greatest destiny?

It’s good vs. evil.
In you.
The choice is yours.

Remembering “Yom Hashoah” (Holocaust)

Every year, soon after the end of the Passover Holidays, Jews all over the world, and especially in the State of Israel, observe a day of remembering for one of the worst periods in the history of the Jewish People.

Known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah in Hebrew, all normal activities are altered and in Israel, places of entertainment, including restaurants, theatres and like are closed. Programs dealing with this subject are conducted in Synagogues, community centers, schools, etc., while television programs run ceremonies, interviews, movies and other features to bring forth various aspects of the period which ran from the mid 1930’s until the end of World War II.

We are now seven years into the new millennium and more than 66 years after the last shots were fired in Europe and the remnants of the cream of European Jewry were finally set free from the man-made hell of concentration camps all over northern and central Europe. For more than six million Jews, however, liberation came too late, as they had been swallowed up in the inferno created by a country that was once considered to be one of the most law-abiding and cultured in the World.

The Holocaust for the Jewish People is not the only disaster that has stricken Mankind – within the framework of man’s inhumanity to man. Literally thousands of events are evident throughout recorded history, ranging from conquests by the great empires of the earth, religious carnage by events such as the Crusades, rise of Islam, etc., Spanish Inquisition, and, of course, wars. Since the beginning of the 20th century, when Mankind was supposed to be more enlightened and cultured some of the worst atrocities have occurred, and in themselves, were no less horrible than the Holocaust itself. Ranging from the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians in 1918, to the Japanese persecution of the Korean and Chinese peoples, not to mention those living in South East Asia; the mayhem in various African countries, such as Rwanda, Liberia, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Sudan, where millions have died horrible deaths; the Khmer Rouge carnage in Cambodia; and the events in various Balkan countries including, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Kosovo province of Serbia-Yugoslavia, the Chechnya province of Russia; the list literally goes on and on.

And despite all of this, it was recently announced in the U.K. that public schools there will no longer include studies of the Holocaust in their study curriculum, as this offends Muslims who are denying that the Holocaust ever happened!

For the Jewish People, whether living in Israel or in the Diaspora, life is never 100% secure, even in democracies such as England, America, Canada, etc. Israelis know all too well the alternative to being unable to defend oneself. As a country established for Jews to live in after being hounded and persecuted for centuries, Israel form the outset has had to defend itself from its “neighbors”, some of whom actually welcomed Jews in former years. In war after war, terrorist atrocity after atrocity, and recently Intifada after Intifada, the Jews of Israel have literally been fighting for survival. With one of the largest population of Holocaust survivors and children of Holocaust survivors, the importance of Yom HaShoah carries on year after year, in order that new generations of Jews will continue to spread the message of “Never Again”.

"Never Again”: the meaning of this expression is symbolic in the culture of Israelis, in that Jews will never again allow themselves to be weak and defenseless and at the mercies on the peoples of the countries in which they live. Never again will Jews be forced to give up their faith and religious practices. Never again will Jews be considered as pariahs, stateless wanderers, being forbidden to live in certain areas, and barred from working in certain trades and professions, etc.

But being strong has its price, and this price is particularly and painfully felt in the State of Israel, especially within the past few years. Both physical and economic hardships have become a part of Israeli lives, with more and more wars and terrorism attacks.

Despite all of the adversities, Israel continues to carry on, and likewise, Jews all over the world continue to have this Homeland to come to if they should ever need to flee their present places of dwelling.

By continuing to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, Jews continue to be strong.

Because once they begin to forget this segment of their past, it creates the seeds of it happening again in the future. Already many non-Jews all over the world, like the example of the U.K., preach denial of Holocaust, saying it was a fabrication to create sympathy towards the Jews.

The truth is stronger, however, and millions of Gentiles join their Jewish brethren annually to commemorate this event. For they too know that “he who forgets the lessons of history will certainly be doomed to repeat it”.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Azmi Bashara – Bad Boy or True Arab Patriot?

The furor over Balad Party leader Azmi Bashara's political future makes many Israelis wonder if he may be the beginning of other Arab Israeli Knesset parliamentarians going over to "the other side".

And that 'other side' may be Israel's enemies, including radical Islamic countries like
Syria and Iran.

Mr. Bashara's radical political views in respect to being a member of the Israeli Knesset have often gotten him into trouble with the Israeli government, particularly among the more right wing political spectrum, including the Likud and other parties who take a dim view of such actions. Bashara's frequent trips to neighboring Arab countries, resulting in his hob-knobbing with such people as exiled Hamas leader Khalid Maashal and Syrian leader Baashar Al-Assad, has resulted in many Israelis calling for his ouster from his parliamentary seat as well as indictment for seditious anti-government activities.
Other Arab Knesset political leaders, including Taal Party leader Dr. Ahmad Tibi, seem moderate in comparison to Bashara, who has been advocating the disillusion of the Jewish character of the state in favor of a secular one.

Presently "languishing" in a posh Amman Jordan hotel suite, Bashara is pondering both his political as well as personal future. Carefully weighing his options, he is considering returning to Israel and coming into the line of fire by an unfriendly, Jewish parliamentary majority who seem bent on kicking him and possibly his political party from Israel for good. Or, to voluntarily give up his Knesset seat and show his true personal and political "spots" by officially emigrating to either Syria, Lebanon, or Jordan.

Syria, and possibly other countries unfriendly to Israel may want to use Bashara as a propaganda tool against the Jewish State by having him send a clear message to other Arabs holding Israeli nationality that the time as come for them to decide as to with whom their loyalty really lies. For Bashara himself, it's becoming more and more evident regarding where he wants to be; and that place is not within a Jewish dominated and governed republic. One might wonder if Bashara would consider becoming involved in Palestinian politics; but most likely, even he is not that stupid, judging from the current state of anarchy which is tearing the Palestinian Authority apart and which almost led to civil war.

Most Israelis would like to see Bashara exit Israeli politics; and the country as well. His continued presence in both has been damaging to all, to say the very least.
Other Israeli Arab politicians, many of whom live very comfortable lives in the Jewish Republic, must now decide who really butters their bread; for life in most neighboring Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan, may not be nearly as pleasant as life within the 'confines' of the State of Israel.

At the end of the day, many Arab-Israeli politicians may decide that they have never had it so good, Bashara included.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Israeli Air Force pilot flys F15 with one wing shot off.

In the year 1983 an F-15 of the Israeli airforce collided with a skyhawk while doing a practice. the skyhawk blew away but the pilot abandoned it peacefully. the f-15 lost his right wind but the pilot Ziv Nadivi couldnt see it because of the vast fuel fumes that covered it. the pilot and the navigator Yehuar Gal didnt not know they are flying on one winf only, a state which is of course "impossible" to fly in, and didnt not abandoned the jet but continued to land a crash landing. because of the high velocity of the jet (450kmph) while landing, the stopping hook was cut away and the jet stopped a few meters before the end of the runway.

after more than 20 years, we can finally see the movie.

(this is from the History channel) - Headlines