Monthly Archives: November 2012

HOLIDAY GIFT SUGGESTION

If you’re looking for a gift for the holidays, and want it to be meaningful, affordable, and appreciated, I ask you to consider the book Jew Face.  The following link will send you to some reviews on the book  as well as a link to “How to Buy the Book” which is now available on NOOK as well.

Click for Customer Review

How to Buy the Book


Thankfully..

If you are sitting in front of a computer reading this, with warm shelter and have food to eat, you have reason to be thankful.  If you have people who you love and love you, you have reason to be thankful.  If you live in freedom and don’t fear for your life, you have reason to be thankful.  If the world you live in, even if it consists of difficulties and uncertainties still provides you with some degree of hope, you have reason to be thankful.  If you are healthy, or if you’re not but have moral and practical support during the hardest times, you have reason to be thankful.  If you live in peace, you have reason to be thankful.  But most of all, on this Thanksgiving, if you’re not a turkey…..

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.


Why We Pick Sides

Although the events in the Middle East are of a more serious nature, this is not the first time in the past month we have been witness to two large groups of people taking sides against each other.  Only a few weeks ago when Barack Obama won reelection, the ongoing battle between Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left, at least to some extent, finally settled down. Although the differences between the American presidential election and the conflict in Israel and Gaza are significant, one interesting similarity is that in both circumstances all parties think the same thing.  They think they are without any question correct for choosing the side that they did.  The question this makes me ask is this.  What causes people to pick sides?

I discussed this with someone prior to the election, and we both agreed that there are many people out there who pick a political party based on what they were born into.  It is not uncommon to see three generations of Democrats or Republicans.  After all, it is very normal for parents to influence their children.  By no means do I mean to imply these people are not thinking for themselves, after all, being born to parents who always voted Democrat, I too fell into this category.  I just know that my political opinions were influenced by the discussions I heard and participated in at home and that my opinion was, at least partially, molded by those dinner time chats.   Now don’t think for one second I don’t recognize there are multitudes of people who make their decision when they reach adulthood based on experiences or analysis, but it is important to recognize that there are many people who in some ways never really had a choice to make.  It’s all they ever knew from a young age.

Although the stakes, certainly immediately are far greater, there are similarities to be found between the U.S. presidential election and the conflict in the Middle East.  The similarities I speak of surround the taking of sides, the reasons for doing so, and the certainty with which each side holds its view.  Although there is great passion in American politics, the majority of people realize that each side isn’t entrenched to the point where no one can see how it will ever change.  I am not so sure the same can be said for the situation in the Middle East.

Examining the situation in Gaza, I asked myself what makes someone choose one side or another.  There are of course the people who live in the affected areas, and then there are people such as myself who live geographically far away, but feel close to the situation.  I’ve heard the stories of Palestinians who in their early years saw people who they were close to die, and living in an environment where they never heard anything other than the fact that the Israelis were responsible, grew up wanting revenge.  Regardless of the accuracy of the information, was there ever a question what side they would be on?   Were they ever given a choice?

In Israel, boys and girls know that when they reach the ripe old age of 18, that they will get called up to do their required military service. Military service made necessary from living in a nation surrounded by enemies.  Then there are the thousands who have been killed in terrorist attacks and their families who have been directly affected by these attacks.  Even if for argument’s sake Israel’s attack on Gaza held no justification, what side would you expect these people to be on?  Past incidents give them little to no room for choice.

There are people on both sides of the conflict who pick a side based on their background, religion, or in some cases, political expediency.  In some cases people pick sides without any genuine regard for the well-being of the people on the side that they pick.  Some politicians and journalists thrust their careers into high gear during conflicts such as these, and although I am sure that for the most part these people are not looking to see anyone suffer, in some cases they are not exactly praying for things to get back to normal either.

It’s very important to mention that the media that supplies the information to a large percentage of Israel’s enemies makes no attempt at being balanced and in many cases is controlled by their governments that do not believe in the concept of freedom of speech or freedom of the press.  Israel is a democracy with these freedoms and with an open channel to get information from all sides.  All of these factors play a major role in how the people on both sides think and implies that people’s feelings are controlled by factors entirely out of their control.  A point I have no intention of disputing.  All of this leads me to how I picked the side I am on.

I am a Jewish man and the son of Holocaust survivors from Holland.  I’ve always believed I was created by God and by my mother and father.  However I recently came to the realization that there is one other player, for lack of a better term, in forming who I am as a person.  That player is the anti-Semite.  From a young age I was aware of the suffering of the Jewish people.  After 6 million Jews were murdered by Hitler’s Nazi Germany, many surviving Jews went back to their biblical home in what was then Palestine.  It did not take long for the surrounding Arab nations to begin hostilities against the newly formed modern nation of Israel in 1948, and subsequently have major wars in 1956, 1967, and 1973.  These conflicts began prior to Israel having any control of Gaza or Judaea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.  Gaza and the Sinai Desert were Egyptian territories taken over by Israel during a war and the West Bank was Jordanian and was also taken over by Israel.  Particularly regarding the latter, Jordan was more than happy to be rid of what they saw as a problematic population.  In the 70s, when Yasser Arafat’s PLO developed a new strategy, the strategy of terrorism, a new era began in the Middle East, and once again a political organization found it justified to kill Jewish people at random.  Arafat’s Palestinian “cause” had him embezzle funds and keep his people down and impoverished.  After all, should the Palestinians prosper he would have no basis of leadership, being that the leadership was based on hating the Jewish, I mean Zionist enemy.  The Palestinian Authority, an organization now recognized by the world as being legitimate, is the political offshoot of Arafat’s PLO and is now considered the more moderate voice of the Palestinians. This is because Hamas, now running the show in Gaza, justifies terrorism as a political means to achieving their goal.

Seeing innocent people crying and bleeding as a result of Israeli airstrikes is never a pleasant sight, but it pales in comparison to suicide bombers going into Pizza places and wiping out entire families intentionally with one bomb.  A car on fire in Gaza because it was near a terrorist base of operation, does not compare with buses being blown up intentionally.  And civilian Palestinians are not targeted in European countries, while Jews are fair game in places like France and Bulgaria to mention just a few.  And when Ahmadinejad of Iran speaks, I once again hear a leader of a nation speak openly about wanting to murder millions of Jews.

I see the enemies of Israel accuse the Jewish state of not wanting peace with the Palestinians.  To this I ask; “if you are so convinced of this, why are you not willing to give it a try?”   I see the answer is being a simple one.  Even if the people would want peace, their leadership does not.  And for this reason I believe that they are not only out to kill as many Jews as possible, but that they are responsible for dying Palestinian civilians in Gaza as well.  How did I pick my side?  I had no choice.  I put a value on human life.


Being Objective in the Face of Hypocrisy

Occasionally when watching reports on the events in the Middle East I make an attempt at being objective.  As a Jewish man, I feel anger any time I perceive Jews as being indiscriminately attacked.  It is never pleasant to see any innocent people being hurt, but human nature is that we often feel most passionately when the attack is on one of our own.  Be that as it may, I made every conscious effort to listen objectively to both Mark Regev and Hanan Ashrawi on CNN earlier today.

Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, naturally was on to portray the Israeli side of the conflict.  He explained how the importance of this mission is not only to stop the missiles now, but to allow the southern borders of Israel to live in peace and security in the future.  The subject of the “occupation” (not objective quotation marks) never was broached with him as the discussion was entirely about the direction the conflict could go and how to stop the missiles from flying.  He made one very important point.  Israel has a large Arab population and there is absolutely no way of knowing that these missiles will not injure or kill Arabs and Palestinians, the one group Hamas claims to be fighting for.  I am still trying to be objective but as I was listening to Regev speak, I found it increasingly difficult to understand how any sane person would argue with anything he was saying.  But then again throughout the ages sanity has never been in the forefront when it comes to assaults on Jewish populations.  Objectively speaking.

I then listened to Hanan Ashrawi, who as everyone knows only tells the Palestinian side of the story. I have no problem with her doing this since after all, that’s her job, but after being painted into a corner by CNN’s Gary Tuchman, Ashrawi, as intelligent as she may be, in my estimation unwillingly displayed her approval of violence.  Tuchman asked her what she expected Israel to do after being victim to hundreds of missile attacks from Gaza throughout the year.  He drew the comparison to Florida being attacked by Mexico and rightfully so, said that the citizens of the United States would demand retaliation and that the President would almost certainly oblige his citizenry.  Her response was to speak of what she sees as the underlying problem, which in her estimation is the “occupation”.  At this point I put on my Mr. Objective hat and decided to consider the “occupation” the real issue here.  But when Tuchman continued to push her on what Israel should do about the missiles, she replied something along the lines of, “go back to the negotiating table.”   At this point, if my imaginary hat was real, I would have taken it off, lit a fire somewhere, and burnt it to ashes.

Ashrawi, who is supposed to be one of the intelligent voices of the Palestinian world, basically revealed the worldwide philosophy among Arab and Muslim leadership today.  This philosophy is violently attack until the people you are trying to defeat know that it only stops if you adhere to their demands.  Throw missiles at Israel until you get what you want and then cry to the world about how Israel is killing your people without restraint.  Well let’s examine that as well.  40 people have been killed in airstrikes in Gaza since Wednesday.  That is 4 days of Israeli attacks “without restraint”.  It doesn’t take a genius, or even someone objective to realize that if there were 4 days of unrestrained attacks there would be a lot more than 40 deaths.  In fact, the reason the number is not larger is because these attacks are focused on what is believed to be terrorist hideouts or bases of operations.  When the Arab League gets together to discuss this do they also talk about the 17 civilians, many women and children killed the other day by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan?  These people were part of a wedding party and were killed by a bomb placed by the Taliban, an organization like Hamas in its methods and intent.  In October, 19 civilians were killed by a roadside bomb.  Between these 2 bombings alone 36 civilians were killed.  When you factor in the fact that the Israeli attacks are targeted and have killed Hamas operatives, it is pretty safe to say that more innocent people were murdered in 2 roadside bombs planted by the Taliban, a Hamas ally, than by the “unrestrained” attacks by Israel on Gaza.

I have heard a few Palestinian spokespersons say that Israel should allow free movement in and out of Gaza.  I have a simple response to that.  Israel is currently being attacked by Fajr 5 missiles.  These missiles are being supplied to Hamas by Iran, the nation that has publicly stated its desire to destroy Israel.  With Iran in the process of attempting to construct a nuclear arsenal, and Hamas in alliance with Iran, allowing free access to Gaza would be the equivalent of cutting oneself and walking into shark infested waters.  At this point it would be so easy you almost can’t even blame the shark anymore.

As someone who appreciates objectivity and hates violence, I welcome the true voices of honor and decency.  But both objectivity and peace by definition can’t be one-sided.  I am sure Hanan Ashrawi, a woman with multiple degrees in literacy is aware of this, but admitting this would be breaking from the strategy of force over reason and would put her in a position to do something not very politically expedient for her, which is be at peace with Israel.


The Morality behind Being a Hard Liner from a Safe Seat

As someone who loves Israel I sometimes wonder the morality behind my hard-line statements.  In this post I will only refer to myself, because each person who speaks their mind about Israel may have done things to help the Jewish state that I am not aware of even if on the surface they appear to be just like me, an opinionated person who supports aggressive response without being in the range of retaliatory missiles.   On top of that, I am not writing a post of judgment as much as I am putting a concept and question out there.

As rockets fly into Israel, no reasonable person questions Israel’s right to self-defense.  There is not a country on earth that would sit by and allow their territory and their people be attacked without a response.  But when this happens I will be one of the first to openly express my wish for Israel to crush the enemy.  I do not say this out of lack of respect for human life.  I say this out of respect for Jewish life that throughout the ages has been seen as expendable.  But I say these things from a comfortable chair and from a computer in New York City.  When Israel retaliates and missiles are fired all over Israel, I do not have to run for shelter.  I do not run the risk of being killed in the middle of the night and I will not be fighting on any front line if the war escalates.  Even as I believe the only way to combat this enemy is with stronger force and that Israel is 100% correct in handling it that way, one might say, as the phrase goes, “It’s easy for you to say David.”

No one has said this to me and I believe that Israelis appreciate the solidarity shown by supporters worldwide, but the question needs to be asked.  Do we have the right to encourage violence, albeit justified, even if we do not suffer any immediate consequences?  In a previous post I stated my belief that these missiles are aimed at all Jews. I still believe that.  However, that reality is still more conceptual than actual.  So in truth, as painful and disturbing as the situation is, compared to others, one might feel that it is easy for me to say.

 


The Danger to us All

The most important thing any Jew can learn from the lessons of the past is to recognize those who wish to duplicate it.  This past month has seen my blog become my mechanism for discussing current issues that have serious consequences and are far more important than the sale of a book.  In speaking of my book I discuss a time when the Jewish people faced an enemy unlike any other they had ever faced in their history.  This enemy’s goal was to annihilate the Jewish people entirely.  It is with great sadness and extreme concern that with my  posts these days I recognize that current events have become increasingly more connected to the origins of my book and blog.

I live in New York City.  Missiles are not being fired upon Jewish neighborhoods anywhere near where I live.  Thousands of miles away, in the State of Israel, Jews are under attack.  What I urge all Jews to recognize is that these attacks are indeed an attack on all of us.  Do not rest on the concept of it being a political attack on a government that happens to be Jewish and far away.  What this enemy has in common with Hitler’s Germany is that its ultimate goal is the same.  The annihilation of the Jewish people.

I am not a sensationalist.  I try to not see similarities.  I try to see a situation where compromise leads to peace.  But when hope takes the place of realism, good people die, innocent people die, and throughout history, Jews get murdered.  I hope all good and decent people out there realize how their world is in danger as well, and I urge all Jews to recognize the danger we are all in and to not only show solidarity and support for Israel and its Defense Forces, but to realize that they are not only fighting for the residents of Israel, they are fighting for you as well.


The Missile’s Targets: All Jews

As a Jew who cares about Israel’s well-being and as someone who often makes his voice heard, I often ask myself what is it that I can say that we have not already heard or read.  I have a lot of company in my concerns and fears and by no means think there are things that I know that make me better informed than so many out there.  All I can offer that is significantly different is how I feel and my personal perspective on events taking place.

As many of you know,  I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  There are those who would consider that irrelevant to current events.  I wish it was the case, but unfortunately with the attitude and goal of Islamic extremists, it is sadly and dangerously relevant.  Hatred, persecution, anti-Semitism are things that generally don’t take the same form when repeated in different eras, but the sentiment is never all that different.  Jews are hated with passion by a people and many of these people wish us death.

I believe myself to be an optimist by nature and try to look at what is going on in the world and specifically Israel in an optimistic way.  The best I can come up with is the hope that a strong Israeli military at least temporarily disables the enemy.  The problem however is that now the enemy has gone from being more than a nation or even a group.  The enemy has become an ideology.  The ruling forces have ingeniously taken the people’s suffering and hopelessness and turned it into a fanatical hatred towards the Jews and the western world.

This is no longer about Israel.  Israel is vitally important, not only to Jews but to people who love freedom all over the world.  But this threat goes way beyond Israel and disputes over land.  This is hatred for Jews and holds dangers similar to other times in our history.

As Jews we’ve seen those who hate us deceive us in order to catch us by surprise.   The Nazis never said the Jews were going to Concentration Camps to be murdered.  They were being “relocated”.  Jewish traitors who helped the Nazis, thinking that they would be spared and even treated well, met the same fate of those they betrayed.  Even when arriving at camps with gas chambers the victims were never told the truth about the enemies intentions.  But let’s be real here.  Anyone capable of murder will have no problem with lying.

I am a citizen of the world.  As corny as it sounds, I want to love everyone.  However, the hearts and minds of such a large percentage of the Muslim populist has been so poisoned by hate that feeling love and caring for these people would be tantamount to suicide.  At best we can attempt patience and understanding, not to be nice but to maybe plant the seed of reason in a dangerously large percentage of the planet lacking this reason.  Unfortunately it is unlikely this would even work because the corrupt and evil leaders of these people will do anything to stop optimism and hope, including killing their own in large numbers and certainly mercilessly attacking as many Jews as possible.

It has been said by so many in the past that as long as Israel exists, “Never Again” will be more than a hollow cry.  Israel’s strength protects Jews worldwide.  In my lifetime Israel has never been more important to the survival of the Jewish people as it is today, not just in Israel but worldwide, because it has never been more clear that the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is comparable to the difference between “relocating” and murder in the gas chambers.

And remember, this was written by an optimist.