The normative Jewish blogosphere (if there is such a term as "normative" here) is filled with armchair generals demanding that not only Israel defend itself, not only should we wipe out Hamas, but no more and no less, Israel should retake and re-conquer Gaza.
I cannot think of a more idiotic, stupid and actually criminal demand these days than "to retake Gaza". I cannot even imagine the fools who make this demand. Do they have relatives or children who will spend their lives in such a venture? Do they understand the nature of war? Do they actually in all seriousness, think that "taking Gaza" with its populace will do anything but drain Israel of its manpower, finances and most importantly of its ethical and moral stance. The only thing they will accomplish is vengeance. The one thing that destroys the soul of man faster than acid, is hatred and vengeance.
Who in his right mind would want control over an enemy that has made the art of killing into an art form where Allah is the Commander in Chief? Who in his right mind would want to control and govern people who have no need, no desire, no affection for or to be governed by Israel? What sane human being would want their son policing the streets of Gaza?
Why is it that so many people confuse "defending oneself" with acts of aggression and stupidity? Why is it that so many people who have access to a keyboard and learned how to put up a blog, seem to think that it is all right and even justified to destroy, wipe out, kill and maim others just for the sake of occupying another area and vengeance - especially when the killing and maiming of Israel's own citizens will not stop even then.
How many of these people I wonder, who cry out for the "retaking of Gaza" have ever been in the midst of a war. How many of them have had to make the choice of killing or be killed in a split second?
Defending Israel is our right. Putting an end to the missiles is our right. Trying as much as possible, for as long as it takes to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas is our right. Killing terrorists is our right. Defending our citizens and allowing them to live normally is our right.
Conquering or retaking Gaza is not only NOT our right - it is stupid, idiotic and will only cause more death and destruction. The death of our soldiers - our sons, fathers and daughters - and more graves in military cemeteries. It will destroy any moral fiber we have. It will eat at our souls and cause the worst of nightmares.
Who is his right mind wants to retake a cesspool filled with hatred and terrorists?
God save us from armchair generals.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The normative Jewish blogosphere (if there is such a term as "normative" here) is filled with armchair generals demanding that not only Israel defend itself, not only should we wipe out Hamas, but no more and no less, Israel should retake and re-conquer Gaza.
Posted by Ted Gross at 3:00 PM
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
It is a time to speak.
I was more than a bit surprised two days ago, after having left the blogosphere for the past year, to receive a phone call from someone who is a fairly famous figure in the Israeli-Jewish World. I had, until two days ago, never spoken with this person nor have I ever met them. They had but one simple request. Since the blogs I run are still fairly well-known and read, would I consider rejoining the blogging world in order to "help" with the current state of affairs that both Israel and World Jewry faces.
At first I was very reluctant and immediately answered in the negative. Blogs take time and they demand thought and precision in writing. They also are basically a very lonely affair, as one does not run blogs to pay the grocery bills. It was not that I did not want to help, it was the fact that many of the events that have taken place in the Jewish world fairly recently must, and should be handled with a finesse and sophistication that I sorely lack.
I thought that was the end of it actually. A request followed by a very polite refusal. However, this specific individual is known for their "obstinate" ways - and is one of those people who will not accept "no" for an answer especially when they feel the future of Israel and the Jewish people are at stake. I began receiving links in my email, links to news articles and other blogs covering the war in Gaza and other Jewish stories in the press these days, and I spent the morning pouring over them, mostly in disgust.
Perhaps it is time for the View From Jerusalem to re-open its doors if only for a bit.
As I look through the posts made over a year ago, I am amazed that my mindset in terms of Olmert and all his cronies has not changed even a bit. Leaving out the financial shenanigans that have finally gotten rid of one of if not the worst Prime Minister Israel has ever had, we can see today that he has not fulfilled one of his promises which took place on National Television at the beginning of his debacle in Lebanon. So I make no apologies for this man, and I will, for one be extremely glad to see him fade into the background in another two months.
However, it does seem that he has learned from his mistakes. On one hand the duo of him Ehud Barak is a scary thing. Barak is next in line for one of the worst Prime Ministers Israel ever had the good grace to have, and yet as a soldier and Chief of the Israeli Army he was an excellent choice. Old Soldiers in Israel seem to love to become politicians - and when they do enter politics, either right or left, they usually seem to loose all sense and proportion.
Yet, this duo of Barak and Olmert (let us include Livni here as well and make it a threesome), seem to finally have gotten their act together. When Hamas decides to reign 300 missles down on Israeli cities in one week, it became increasingly clear that silence and peaceful negotiations were not an option.
The world press gave Israel maybe 48 hours of grace before of course, the normal flood of pictures only from Gaza came pouring through (Fox News is an exception here). Once again, and for the millionth time Israel was the aggressor. Israel was the bad boy and big bully. No mention of rocket attacks on Israeli cities. No mention of the fact that it was the equivalent to sitting in Jersey City and lobbing in a missile into Midtown Manhattan. No mention of the Israelis and Palestinians (yes even Palestinians) killed and maimed by Hamas missles. And very little mention of Hamas being a recognized terrorist organization.
And then I must admit Olmert surprised me. He did not get on television and make dumb bombastic speeches full of promises he could never fulfill. He has resisted the urge to strike out with "glory lines". After all if you are going to do a televised "fireside chat", make sure you say something to the people that you can achieve.
Barak for once did not say "this is my red line" and then a day later say "no, I meant this is my red line" and a day later say "no no no - this is my red line". Suddenly, almost quietly, with teeth clenched as they should be anytime a nation goes to war, we finally viewed forethought and dare I say it, a beam of intelligence shine through.
The leaders made it clear this was not going to be easy. They made it clear this is going to be bitter. They made it clear that we are not going to be able to destroy a total Hamas infrastructure. They also finally made it clear with little words and appropriate action, that Israel is not the punching bag for Hamas.
It scares me, as a former soldier and reservist to see the tanks and APC's lined up on the border with Gaza. It scares the living daylights out of me. Gaza is a swamp with too much quicksand to get swallowed up in. The Palestinians could not control the area; the Egyptians would like to see it disappear, the Jordanians if truth be told would like it to disappear as well. Unfortunately, Gaza is on Israel's borders. Unfortunately, in 2008 as we go to 2009, there are still a few hundred million people on the face of our planet that would like to see the Jewish People and specifically the Israelis driven into the sea. Unfortunately, as usual, we are caught between being killed or having to go to war.
I can say that I have lived many years now and seen a great deal of what is good and evil in mankind. War never achieves what those who set it in motion strive to achieve. It is beyond any one man's control or even one group of people. Yet, there are times, even with that foreknowledge wars must be fought. There are times when it comes down to simple defense of your civilians, cities and homes. There are times when the "red line" simply cannot be crossed.
We are now in one of those periods. It is impossible, nor is it viable, to continue living as we have and still do, with missiles indiscriminately raining down on major cities. It is impossible to sit back and just wait "till the bad times pass". It is impossible to ignore the ever-growing impudence with which Hamas has decided to attack Israel, day after day and hour after hour.
I pray we can end this before tanks and foot soldiers are ordered into Gaza. I have been there and done that, and would not wish that experience on any living human being. It is horrendous and horrible. There will be only more death and destruction on both sides.
I also know the word "peace" is not a viable option until Hamas gets over its Jihad mentality and realizes Israel is not going to make its home under the sea. So we don't hope for peace. We know this will not be the last war. We know just who we are and what we are. We look to the heavens and wonder at the silence at times. We look to mankind and wonder at its awesome ability to be so blind. So we hope only for a viable, working "political accommodation" so that Gaza can no longer invade our nightmares. How is that for finesse?
I do not say "bring the boys home". I do not think actually, at this point, we should in any shape manner or form suddenly pull back. I pray only that Olmert has learned his lessons well, keeps his public glory speeches to a minimum, Barak stays to what he does best - military planning, and somehow the message gets through that lobbing missiles into Israel is just not going to "fly" (pun fully intended).
Sadly, the only thing here to say, is it is about time we are doing something to protect our own citizens. And it is about time we have learned to do it with less talk, targeted action and the understanding that we must fight this battle both in Gaza and on the electronic byways of the Internet.
Sadly, the time for silence and peace has ended. But we would be true fools, if we did not recognize that right now the time to speak and the time for War has been pushed upon us. Silence is a virtue - Silence in the face of destruction is stupidity. Peace is wonderful and fulfilling - but peace can only be achieved when one is not afraid to walk out of ones home or even stay inside of it for fear of a missile.
It is a time for war.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I am sorry but I cannot resist today. I came across two posts in two blogs in the "Jewish" world, that actually made me want to puke and then convert. For the life of me I cannot understand what some people are thinking of when they express their ideas and can only wonder if they know how utterly stupid (yes that is the right word here so let us say it again with emphasis ... stupid) they sound. Oh, don't let me forget the word hypocritical as well. Combine stupidity, religious self-righteousness and hypocrisy and what do you get? ... Well you be the judge!
I take these posts in the order I happened upon them. There are no levels of idiocy here, just one plain soup of people who need some time out in the sandbox to go play. In today's post we will deal with the first one.
Before I am asked, I know that giving notoriety to an otherwise unknown Blog, is not the way to go. But the ideas mentioned in this post, and the fact it was put up at JBlog under the title "Worth A Read" demand a response.
The first post, which raised the hair on the back of my neck, which I will deal with today, was from a blog, of someone obviously testing the waters of how many crazies out there would be willing to give him a high-five. This blog, called, Esser Agaroth, which comes with subtitle, "The approximate monetary equivalent of two cents. Commentary on life in Israel and on being Jewish." usually seems to have mundane posts about different things going on in the world of interest to him, which is Jewish blogging in regard to blogs. So be it. He should have stuck to what he knows best.
Of course, some people should never even put their toes in the water of political commentary. And if they decide to do so in a moment of insanity, they should be incredibly careful about what they write. So the owner of this blog on the anniversary of the death of former Prime Minister Yitzchaq Rabin, decided to test our historical knowledge, our knowledge of Judaism, and of course our moral judgment all rolled up into one incredibly, how shall I say this? Oh yes! STUPID post entitled no more and no less, "The Cult Of Rabin". (Hey, I don't mind giving him the free links...he obviously needs them!)
Of course what caught my eye is how he started out with the old Altelana story, brought up yet again by someone who obviously knows just a little bit about Jewish History. Remember the cliché, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". Well in this case the cliché simply proves the truth.
And wouldn't you know it, he links to an Internet page all about the Altelana. Hmmmmm... Ben Hecht and his book, Perfidy, is not up there (and should be because it gives him more "ammunition" - pun intended). The background to the Altelana affair and what happened is not mentioned. The state of politics and all that was going in Israel in those years is not mentioned. Kastner, (intricately woven into this tale is not mentioned). Let us see what else he forgot. Oh that is right! Sheesh hits my head against the wall. Now I am stupid. Why go on? This is not about truth or about the Altelana at all. This is about the fact that Ben Gurion and Rabin were there. Equation to be made in his mind - Rabin is evil because he killed Jews.
(So did the Sicarii and Zealots of the Second Temple Era umm but we have one of those sitting in jail today.)
And then we are presented with a litany of evils of Rabin. From the Oslo accords (called "Oslo Death Accords" - everyone laugh please) to a Palestinian State. And we get to his "Cult Rituals". And here comes a story which he is proud of no less.
"Eight years ago, as a junior high school teacher, I had the displeasure of being forced to attend a ceremony in Rabin's in honor. At this ceremony, I had to listen to a "rabbi" had the hutzpah (gaul) not only to praise Yitzhaq Rabin, but to use his name in the same sentence with Rahel Immeinu, whose anniversary of death is the day before his. This "rabbi" did not stop there, but made comparisons between the two."Not enough for you yet? Well here is another quote from this genius.
The yeshivah high school where I was also teaching at the time must not have done anything at all in commemoration of Rabin. The math teacher and I came across the Rabin memorial educational materials from the ministry, still in their sealed packaging, hidden away in a corner. I was given the honor of throwing them out. Being the voice of environmental conservation, I raised the question as to whether it was permissible to re-use the curriculum's high quality containers, as well as the backs of the paper materials themselves for scratch paper. The decision was to be mahmir, and to throw the packages out in their entirety. Under most circumstances, it is forbidden to obtain any benefit from avodah zarah.Naturally, we hide our political statements in the holy wrappings of religion and self-righteousness. Makes perfect sense does it not? He was a "machmir" in the army of God! A prophet in our own time. Give him a badge. Give this guy five gold stars. He fought Idol Worship totally and completely. A HERO! Isaiah in the flesh!
Tell me one thing. Who the hell let this guy teach kids?
Know what makes me sick? Totally and completely sick. Not the lack of historical knowledge and not the holy hero mentality. That is just what stupid people always do. What makes me sick is that there is no mention to the blaring hypocritical fact that Rabin was shot to death by someone who thought just like this guy.
So let me get this straight? We should hate Rabin because he gave the order or was proud of the fact that he had the Altelana pounded with guns - but we should revere and honor his killer because he shot in cold blood, in the posters own words, "...a man complicit in murder and have transformed him into a saint."
Umm... well reading your post, and your equation of all the evil that Rabin has done, are you not taking a man who has admitted and proud of murder, political murder, the same you are accusing Rabin of and turning him into a saint? Are you not saying we should face the evil that Rabin was, not commemorate his memory, not loose a moment of moral questioning, not question our own education system and society - because Rabin first killed other Jews, then expressed pride in the fact and then went on to make political concessions you do not like?
But his assassin, killed a Jew, in cold blood, is still proud of it, threw the country in turmoil, ripped even a deeper divide between religious and non-religious, hides behind religious self-righteousness, believes in the glory of his cause will not worship idols and is not repentant. But he is to be forgiven and praised?
And why? Because you see Rabin as evil? Because your religious sensitivity, your self-righteousness can differentiate between "blood and blood"? Because one cause is holy to you and the other is not?
Hypocrisy and religious self-righteousness and half-truths from a little bit of knowledge never fail to prove one of the unfailing rules in this universe. As Einstein once said:
"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."Lesson to be learned. Take the advice of Abraham Lincoln:
'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.What scares me most, is that over at JBlog, someone actually put this post up under the "Worth A Read" column (which is actually why it came to my attention.) Just goes to show you:
Posted by Ted Gross at 6:15 PM
Labels: Point Of View
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
In my previous opening salvo, The Colossal Failure Of Religious Zionism - Part One, I concentrated on an introduction to the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, vis-a-vis the religious Zionist perspective. I should make a few things clear though.
- Religious Zionism certainly did not begin with the Six Day War. Modern religious Zionism began with the Zionist movement or 20-30 years before. I do not mean to imply that the Six Day War, or even the 1948 War of Independence gave birth to religious Zionism nor to Zionism itself. To be sure the establishment of the State of Israel on the world arena did give validity and impetus to the Zionist dream. And to be sure, the Six Day War and its achievements did give "legitimacy" to those who viewed themselves as religious Zionists.
- More importantly, I do not think it is fair to judge any movement, be it successful or a total dismal failure - by only judging it through the outcome of war. However, our society, Israeli society, sad to say, is greatly formed and formulated through and by the wars we have had to fight and even more so by those wars which we did not have to fight and worse by those wars which we had no business fighting or getting involved in.
I received a few emails actually asking what possessed me to take on this volatile subject. A friend told me I had lost my mind. Well, it is simple actually and I will explain before going on.
The Internet allows us all to express our views. And I peek at other very popular blogs on this subject. And sometimes I read statements made by armchair Zionists, who happen to be religious, telling us all how we need to kill and fight and by golly gee go to war again. Shoot those bullets. Fire the missiles. Send in the tanks. Fly those war planes. March to the drummer.
I am far from a peace-nik. I am far from the world of "Peace Now and at any cost". But what truly makes my blood boil, when some nice fool, who has never spent a day of his or her life in the army; has never watched friends cower in fear from almost certain death; has never had to tend to a wounded soldier; has never had to choose between killing and being killed - when such people tell me I should go to war and my children should go to war - so they can live out their dream of what they think religion and Zionism is. And the heart of the matter is - my sons and my son-in-laws will go to war. And those wonderful God-fearing "religious Zionists" along with their sons and family will watch it all on TV and eat pretzels and potato chips and don't forget to pass the Coke. They will cheer for the gipper, and we will bleed and die so they can fulfill their dreams.
And when I read of a mother describing her soon to be born child as the next "soldier-fighter" to be born into the ranks of religious Zionists I cringe with fear. I quote below from one such diatribe which is much longer and much more dangerous when taken in its whole context.
....We aren’t ready to boast, or cheer, or go into the streets—yet. We are still waiting for the inevitable last throws of secularism to try to push its weight around and eliminate our advantage, importing large numbers of non-Jews, attempting to give away strategic lands—doing anything to maintain their illusion of power.(The above can be read: The War Has Already Been Won)
We look with sadness upon the last throws of their backward rein where they kowtow to terrorists and sacrifice our land and our people to the great idol of “peace.” We have seen how “peace” has stood, like a graven image, unable to move or speak, while our living G-d still gives us hope and promise of returning to our Holy places and reclaiming our Holy land. We know there is a lot of pain to come, but we also know the slow unrelenting mass of religious children are headed their way, and there isn’t a whole lot they can do about it.
I seriously cry for a mother who thinks along such lines. I feel sorry for her. And I know that something has gone deadly, drastically and fatally wrong with religious Zionism if someone can think like this. When we view our enemies as our own people, something is truly rotten deep inside of religious Zionism. Who are we fighting? Who is our enemy? Suddenly today, religious Zionism has declared that anyone else who does not think along certain specific lines is an enemy? Excuse me for the crass statement, but this is some real scary shit.
Up until the Six Day War, the goals of religious Zionism were fairly clear. To live as Jews, seeking guidance from the Mitzvot and Torah in the Land of Israel. To be sure, religious Zionists also had a political agenda. And to be sure some of that political agenda was achieved. Public transportation was closed (except in Haifa); Yom Kippur until this very day maintains its own rules of conduct in the public sector; Kashrut was implemented; Chief Rabbis were appointed and maintained by the State - and on and on we can go.
Yet, the Six Day War forced the religious Zionist movement to suddenly leap forward. Up until that point we were content with hoping and praying for the Redemption. We believed that the State of Israel, founded in 1948, was a great watershed in human history, and specifically and certainly in Jewish History. But we were simply not prepared for the fact that our dreams would come true. How is that for irony? For 2000 years we wait and pray and cry and beseech- and suddenly when we are hit with our dreams turning into reality - we screw it all up.
Rav Kook, was the embodiment of religious Zionism. After the Six Day War, his words rang true. Indeed, almost akin to a prophet. Indeed, truth be told he was our prophet. But something happened then. Something critical to our way, as religious Zionists, of looking out upon the world.
Remember, religious Zionism, has at its very heart three critical things. Torat Yisrael (Torah); Am Yisrael (the Jewish People); and Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). And somewhere in that euphoria - that political euphoria and religious ecstasy that came upon the heels of the Six Day War we began to get it all mixed up. We got all mishkabobbled in priorities and requirements and needs.
And so, slowly, but not too slowly, religious Zionists adopted the "Eretz Yisrael Ha'Shelemah" banner. The Six Day War allowed us to do this. Now it was all or nothing. It was enough to inculcate our friends and children with this dream. It was based on the prophecies of old. We looked to the Bible and the Halacha; to the mystics and pragmatics; to history and to the millions who were recently gassed - and we decided this was to be our goal. All or nothing.
Religious Zionists made two critical mistakes then. We did not take the time to educate, explain and deal with the rest of our people. We did not take into account the overwhelming odds against such a belief.
The second mistake we made, and this the most critical - is that we always assumed that the connection we had with the Land of Israel would somehow magically jump from generation to generation. Hardships, struggle, war, fighting - were so part of our lives, so part of the recent past, that we could not envision a world where the next generation would want to live it in luxury and peace - no matter what the price.
Somewhere along the line we got it all mixed up. The need to hold on to every inch of Israel, became tantamount. If you were a religious Zionist - by definition you had to believe that was the case. Period. It was heresy to suggest anything different at the time. God had given us Jerusalem, the Golan and even Sinai - it was now up to us to rush in and take over.
Thus we found all the reasons within the religious context to do so. We took care of two things. We made sure our collective butts were covered when it came to the Land of Israel, and somewhat less so when it came to Torah. What we truly forgot - and what we, who once called ourselves religious Zionists are never allowed to forget - is that Am Yisrael - the people of Israel does not only include those same faces who we met at every new rally or settlement.
Those were the days when the great Yishuvim went up. Alon Shvut, Ophra, Beit El just to name a few. We poured our hearts and souls into them. We moved there. Lived without phones, baths and transportation. Woke up in the middle of the night to patrol.
And lest it be said that I do not as an individual - not as a religious Zionist - that I do not personally believe in these settlements - lest it be said that I am just a boiled over peace-nik who is a serious left leaning liberal - I was in Alon Shvut during those early days. I have a daughter today with my grandson and her husband living in Ophra. And I am damn proud of them. BUT that is not and should never have been the goal of "religious Zionism". What happened to the "religion" part of religious Zionism? Did it only consist of settlements and rally's and demanding that we keep every inch of the acclaimed "biblical" land of Israel? How did we ignore and forget the vast majority of our people, who had no idea - no inkling - no vestige of understanding - of the Jewish religion? How did we get so caught up in one point of a star, which held so many other shining pinnacles? How did we forget - that our dream is not necessarily the dream of 80% of the rest of the Jewish people? What were we thinking when we made every single aspect of our lives subservient to that one goal?
And we pushed. Oh boy did we push. We pushed our own community in the need to "conform". If you were a religious Zionist after the Six Day War - you had virtually no choice. You had to believe in settlement. You had to conform to the rules. You had to march and help set up the first caravans. We listened to visionaries, and I say this without any rancor or cynicism, who stood on the top of barren hilltops, and spoke of settlements being built with thousands of people. We felt their dream. We took part in it. We committed to it. We flourished in it.
The aura of the Six Day War allowed this. It allowed us to finally look to the heavens and feel that our prayers were being answered. Nothing could stop us now. Nothing. It was a race to all or nothing. Our long exile, our suffering, our dreams had all been vindicated.
Politics was now played on a global arena. As religious Zionists we now showed our strength and our ability to make those dreams, so long held in abeyance during our torrid and dark exile, come true. We were so concentrated on ourselves on what we were convinced was right, we forgot the rest of our people. And we forgot that we had to pass on this ideology to the next generation. We took it for granted that our children would see the world as we do. For a people so subject to the flux of change; the raging of time; the one law in the universe that nothing remains stable; - we stumbled blindly assuming it would all remain just as it is. We would conquer those hilltops. We would subdue our enemies. We would move forward with the words of the prophets. We would rebuild the Temple. Nothing could stop us.
We looked to the Diaspora. Our friends and our families. We could not understand nor would we accept that they would choose to live there and not here in Israel. How could one choose the luxury of the Diaspora over the wind whistling through a caravan on a barren hilltop, when the road to the Wailing Wall was open to all Jews? It was beyond our understanding. And because we did not truly take the time to understand this - religious Zionism was doomed to failure.
We wore our knitted kippot with pride. And audacity. And smugness. And full of our own righteousness.
That is right. Nothing could stop us then. It was All or Nothing. Period.
And in 1972, just to prove nothing could stop us, as Israeli's, as Zionists, as religious Zionists - we allowed the streets of Jerusalem to be torn up under the treads of tanks as we put on a display of our power in a military parade.
"My own power and my own might have brought this great army to me" - the curse was upon us and we did not even see it. We were blind. Because nothing could stop us then. Not the terrorism of Arafat, not the corrupt UN, not the voices of peace, not even those who among the religious Zionists had the audacity and courage to beg us to first take care of the People of Israel and then worry about the settlements.
Nothing could stop us then. That is until, on a Friday night, in the year of 1973, on the Day of Atonement, on Yom Kippur itself, we were stopped dead in our tracks. By the only power that could stop us. The only power we would answer to. And even then it took some doing.
(To be continued....)
Posted by Ted Gross at 8:34 AM
Monday, October 08, 2007
It has been a real long time and I must assume that most of the usual readers of the The View From Jerusalem have gone their way giving up. Cannot say I blame anyone. But it is time to begin anew.
I have given much thought to the subjects I wish to approach in The View From Jerusalem. There are thousands if not tens of thousands of bloggers out there producing many posts per day on the political, religious and cultural world of Israel and World Jewry. I have from time to time, peeked, read, scratched my head in disbelief and even very rarely applauded some of the posts and opinions that I have seen. Let me make this clear. Very very rarely applauded.
So from my own soapbox, (after all this blog, or any blog can be used as a soapbox) and from my own very narrow view of the world (there - I said it, so when you want to attack these posts you have your first bullet), I am going to approach a subject that I think needs to be approached, must be approached, and indeed, much creative thinking must be applied to it - Religious Zionism and its total failure for the next generation.
I came to Israel in 1978 on Aliya but I had already been studying here for a few years so I was not unfamiliar with the country or the mentality. My generation was shaped not by the Six-Day War but by the Yom Kippur War, and following that the first entry into Lebanon (in 1982).
I came as a "religious Zionist". We had no Nefesh Bi'Nefesh; the Jewish Agency was horrendous (and the word horrendous is being charitable, though my shaliach was incredible despite the Jewish Agency and not because of it); but we were lucky in that I did have a place to immediately go to and thus could skip the feared stage of a Merkaz Kelita (Absorption Center).
I was a religious Zionist then. Oh yes, past tense is used. I am not a religious Zionist today. I am what would be called in this fair world of ours "modern orthodox" or maybe just "my own stream" which would be a much fairer bet. But then back in the good ole days - I was a religious Zionist. I no longer like being called a Zionist. I don't think the term expresses much these days. Indeed I think it has gone to hell actually.
Don't get me wrong. I believe in the centrality of the State of Israel. I believe that is the only homeland for the Jewish people. I am one of those ancient relics who finds more sense in Yom Yerushalyim (Jerusalem Day) than in Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Independence Day). And I certainly cannot be faulted for not doing my army service as it spanned a period of over 20 years and my sons did Hesder and my daughters Sherut Leumi.
Sounds like a religious Zionist... doesn't it? Those glassy eyed, gung-ho, fervent Olim getting off those Nefest Bi'Nefesh planes would say ... woah! That is a religious Zionist is it not? Like Hell It Is. Nope folks it is not. It is far from it. Religious Zionism today is rotten to the core. It is stewing in its own deadly decomposition. It lacks direction, leadership and certainly an understanding of what is critical and what is not critical. Hey, don't believe me. Just pick up any one of those ludicrous "parsha sheets" they drop in every synagogue on Friday night. Don't just look at the advertisements (which are ridiculous in and of themselves) - just read some of the junk spewed forth in the name of "religion" and "Zionism". And don't you worry. We will get to these wonderful sheets and ditty's of wisdom on the by and by in this series of posts as well.
A religious Zionist combines two basic ingredients. Zionism and religion. And specifically here in these next few posts I finally do get to talk from the perspective of years.
When our little country, went through the Six Day War, and many of you who will read this were simply not alive then, after the facts set in, after we were able to really judge what had happened, (and I was way to young for the Six Day War to make an impression upon me), religious Zionists suddenly "realized" that the path of Jewish History really did have a purpose. That someone up there was actually listening. Prayers were heard; prophecies were being fulfilled before our very eyes. Rav Kook, the embodiment of religious Zionism was quoted without end. Isaiah, Yehezkel, and many other prophecies were dug up. We pointed to them. We believed. There is a path. A purpose. A reason for our struggle and our sacrifice.
We wore our knitted Kippot with pride then. Oh yes we did.
I remember taking my father, o"h, to the Kotel in 1971. I remember his tears. I was but 18 years old, but I remember my father's tears. I also remember what he said to me.
"Everyone wants to know where the Messiah is," he said pointing to the Kotel. "There, in that wall is the Messiah".I was a young boy then. I knew it all. I did not then understand exactly what Pop was trying to tell me. Like the verse from Shir Ha'Shirim, "Here He stands behind our wall, peeking through the lattice-works and the cracks".
Yes, perhaps that is where God watches us. Perhaps that is one of those favorite and most holy of perches where God listens to our prayers.
And so from 1967 straight till Yom Kippur of 1973 we, as religious Zionists, were hell bent on the path to Deliverance. We were sure of our way. We had our miraculous proof. "Har Habayit BiYadenu" the famous message rang in our ears. The messianic road has begun. The road to redemption has been paved.
We were smug. We were sure. We were so full of ourselves.
The view of the Diaspora at that time, (you can deny this until you turn blue in the face but it will not change the facts), was that it was and had to be coming to an end. If you were a Zionist you lived in Israel. If you were a Religious Zionist you came to live in Israel. (Thus I came.) You could not be an "armchair Zionist". Marching in the Independence Day Parade in NY did not make you a Zionist. Giving money to Israel did not make you a Zionist. Only one thing made you a card carrying Zionist. Living in Israel. And if you were religious, it was more critical. Religious Zionism had (and still has) at its very core the need to live in Israel. A religious Zionist kept three things close to the heart:
1. Torat Yisrael (Torah)
2. Am Yisrael (People of Israel)
3. Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).
And that third factor meant to the religious Zionist of the time that one had to live in Israel. We had our State. We had our army. "Har Habayit Bi'Yadenu"! Period. No and's if's or but's about it. The future of the people of Israel could no longer be accepted as one in the Diaspora. It was here in Israel.
Boy, did we still have a great deal to still learn. And boy did religious Zionism fail. And fail in colossal proportions.
And He watched though those cracks in the Wall. He watched and He waited.
And then in Yom Kippur of 1973, on that Friday night and Saturday - our dreams were shattered. To be sure we did not know it then. It took a very long time to understand the implications upon religious thought that the Yom Kippur war would cause. Suddenly, without warning, we were hammered on the head.
We were supposed to be in an age of miraculous victory. And we found ourselves in an age of miraculous events which allowed us only to breathe. We were supposed to have put all the sorrow behind us. And we found ourselves losing our sanity bent over open graves of our friends. We were supposed to be marching towards redemption, and we found ourselves thrown back with the fury of a guided missile aimed right at the heart of our beliefs.
Where were the promises of redemption? Where were the assurances that we would make it? Where were the prophets telling us that we should not fear?
Before I end Part One...remember this much. During this time the generation was growing up. Getting married. Having Children. Children who would be brought up in the world of religious Zionism.
And in the end result - we failed the next generation. We totally failed them.
(But that will have to wait for the next post or two or three.)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I have been silent on this blog for a bit, due once again to pressures from other parts of my life. But it is a blog I kind of like, but I am not married to any of my blogs so what the hell.
I was planning, actually still am planning a series of posts on another subject of Israel & Zionism, but there is one thing which in caught my eye in the Jewish Blogging World the other day, which I have been following with a mixture of laughter, cynicism, and a certain amount of interest - due to the entertainment aspect of the whole feature.
It seems in the Jewish Blogging World there is a site, to which most of my blogs actually appear, called JBlog Central, where blogs from all over the Jewish world are placed and their feeds are picked up. It is really a great thing and David (I have no clue who this David is), deserves a real high five and respect for running JBlog Central. (I do not know his financial strategy - all I know is that it is entirely for free.)
When I discovered JBlog Central, a few weeks later a whole new thing started called the JIB Awards (Jewish & Israeli Blogs). Hell I thought, why not put in my food blog, Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, as a contender? And so I did and forgot all about the thing, until it came time to vote which is this week. (If you would like to vote for Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, at the JIB Awards click here.)
And then over @ JBlog Central I began to pay attention to a couple of things. There seems to have been a squabble/argument/fight between some Jewish bloggers which borders on the inane. Personal statements are made (some litigious btw); mud is flown; accusations are made; others with a smile say nasty things covered in sweet words. Others seem to enjoy whining and presenting us with angst ridden pieces on how they want to win, then on how they don't care if they win, then on how they are happy they lost and then on gawd only knows what.
It is funny - especially when you don't know these people and have just come across their blogs.
But some of the stuff makes me also cringe in shame. So for those out there, if anyone does read this post from JBlog Central and/or the JIB Awards here is the reality of blogging life:
- No one has to like your blog. No one has to visit it. Just because you built it does NOT mean anyone is coming to see it!
- If you want your blog to be famous - advertise. Do something controversial. Don't spend hours on some ridiculous format, and think your humor should make you the most popular spokesman in the world. Being nice is great for your kids. It is NOT going to win awards on the Internet.
- Blog owners - you don't use moderation on comments - then don't complain when someone leaves a comment not to your taste. Period.
- No one could care less if you are a female or a male when they comment. The same language will be used. Period. So put on moderation, if you wish to moderate.
- Some people - this never fails - and it disgusts me - think their mission in life is to be the "religious mashgiach" of that world. They will preach to everyone in comments left on blogs on how we should not curse; how we need to behave; how we need to express ourselves. Stop it and stop your preaching. I am religious and the second I see that - it makes me want to convert to the Romulin religion in Star Trek. Gawd...who made you the eyes and ears of God?
- GROW UP FOLKS. THE JEWISH WORLD AND CERTAINLY THE JEWISH BLOGGING WORLD IS NOT MADE UP OF ONLY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE. GROW THE HELL UP!
- Personally, and I have to ask this, how come it is like 3 to 1 of owners of Blogs OUTSIDE of Israel, who are so damn cavalier about Israel going to war? I swear, next time I see one of these jokers from the US, UK or Oz - post something about Israel and the glorious fighting machine backed by God...I am going to rip some serious holes in Jewish Blogging land.
- You want to win an award. GO OUT & WIN IT. Stop whining. Stop crying over the "others" who beat you cause they knew how to get people to vote for them and you did not. This is the INTERNET, not your local synagogue where all you do is have to smile sweetly at the Mens & Ladies club to win an election.
- If you cannot take the heat stay out of the kitchen. You want to win - then go out and win. You don't care -that is great to. Just don't give us this holier than thou - I am not joining because awards are not for me or that sort of malarkey. And don't whine when you loose.
- Lesson to be learned: Some people should not own blogs and some others who do never left first grade where everyone gets a prize for winning the spelling-bee.
- Blogging is big business. Blogging can make you money. Blogging is Public Relations, and don't give me any story about doing this for the "sake" of blogging. BULL. It is PR for you and PR for your family if you want it that way.
- Stop being children Jewish Bloggers. Grow up. For goodness sake if you blog cause you are so full of these good feeling for others and you really have no other motive (yeah, right!) than what the hell do you care if you win or loose an award.
- Please GROW UP!
Posted by Ted Gross at 8:19 PM
Monday, April 30, 2007
Way back on August 21, 2006 I posted the a piece about the way the recent war in Lebanon was planned and carried out. Entitled, Laurel & Hardy - The Three Stooges - Bert & Ernie Take Your Pick, I was fairly clear about the incompetent dolts that were running this government. Since then, this government has added to its noteworthy list of achievements, a President who has had to take a "leave of absence" due to allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment; a Minister of Finance who had to also take a "leave of absence" due to allegations of stealing no less and no more from funds available to Holocaust survivors (makes your stomach turn don't it?) and a host of other charges which climb the pole all the way up to the head of the class - the Prime Minister who is being investigated for shady business deals.
Winograd Commission stated that Peretz "did not have knowledge or experience in military, political or governmental matters. He also did not have good knowledge of the basic principles of using military force to achieve political goals."And of course now we have the official Winograd Commission findings - though to be honest I have no clue why we needed to spend so much money in yet another government commission, when it was always clear that Olmert, Peretz and the rest of this shameful group of incompetents, had no clue what they were doing from the very start of the war.
The following is an excerpt from the news article which appeared in Haaretz - "Lebanon war probe accuses Olmert of 'serious failure'". (Bold & Italics are mine)
"The prime minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking for one," the report said. "He made his decision without systematic consultation with others, especially outside the IDF, despite not having experience in external-political and military affairs."This report should send shivers down the spine of the entire State of Israel. It should make us physically sick. Made me break out in a rash just reading some of the accusations. Months ago, I called these incompetents just what they were - a scary version of Laurel & Hardy. With Halutz in the mix, and we have the Three Stooges. A financially aware three stooges, I admit, one who is savvy enough to deal in the stock market on the first day of a war even while he is the Chief Of Staff; and another who manages to buy prime real estate in the most expensive neighborhood in Jerusalem for 30% less than what it is worth even while he is telling the jobless and poor that things will get better; and another who knows nothing about defense but sure as hell knows a lot about blather and blabbing and causing useless strikes.
Olmert was also censured for failing to "adapt his plans once it became clear that the assumptions and expectations of Israel's actions were not realistic and were not materializing."
"All of these," the report said, "add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence."
The findings level heavy criticism at Defense Minister Amir Peretz for being unaware of the state of the Israel Defense Forces, even though he should have been.
Peretz "did not have knowledge or experience in military, political or governmental matters. He also did not have good knowledge of the basic principles of using military force to achieve political goals."
Despite these deficiencies, the report states, "he made his decisions during this period without systemic consultations with experienced political and professional experts, including outside the security establishment."
In fact, the panel found, "his serving as minister of defense during the war impaired Israel's ability to respond well to its challenges."
Dan Halutz, who was IDF chief of staff at the time, was criticized for entering the war "unprepared," and for failing to inform the cabinet of the true state of the IDF ahead of the ground operation.
According to the findings, the army and its chief of staff "were not prepared for the event of the abduction despite recurring alerts."
The panel also found that Halutz had been failed to "present to the political leaders the internal debates within the IDF concerning the fit between the stated goals and the authorized modes of actions."
Is it any wonder that the kidnapped soldiers are still not back? Is it any wonder that Israel has failed in every single declaration of what the purpose of this war was. Is it any wonder that the government and those who govern us have lost every single iota of respect? Is it any wonder that these three are now exposed as incredible hypocrites and essentially incapable of fulfilling their jobs?
I do not understand why Olmert and Peretz are still in place. I do not understand how, with such damning reports - reports mind you, that make it clear that the death of many soldiers lays squarely on their shoulders - that Olmert & Peretz have not been put to pasture in a land saved for those who brought disgrace to the State of Israel. These are third rate criminal minds attempting to run a country. Why the hell are these people still in office? Why have they not been kicked out on their asses and made to answer for their ignorance? Why are they still occupying a seat of power, when they should be out looking for jobs cleaning the dishes in some fast food joint?
If they look like the Three Stooges; if they act like them; if they talk like them - then hell - someone give these guys their own comedy show. But get them the hell out of the Knesset.
It took you this long to figure it out?
Posted by Ted Gross at 7:08 PM
Sunday, April 29, 2007
As one passes through the various and sundry articles of information available, there are a few which make you stop and wonder and force one to remind oneself about the needs of others and their lives. It is a rare moment when I see an article about some innovation or idea, and say to myself "I wish I thought of that" - not because of monetary gain, nor out of the possibility of advancement but just because the idea is important for others.
I have no idea if this site is a well-kept secret or not. I do know that it is needed and a fantastic idea. I personally think it should be made into English as well, to cover the Anglo speaking community as well as all those who live all over the world. Just like Jdate has in its normal site.Before we go on let me make clear that I have never met Efrat nor is this a "plug" for her website. This is more of trying to bring awareness of what I consider a critical service to the readers of The View From Jerusalem.
So when I came across this article in the Jerusalem Post, Innovations: Love actually, I read it with a great deal of interest. The article tells the story of one, Efrat Eliahu, who due to suffering from a rare, chronic lung disease. became disabled. She went through a long, painful process including the break-up of an 8 year relationship.
Efrat tried dating again. But her experiences in the Internet dating scene were not positive as the moment anyone found out she was suffering from a "disability" that was the end of that. To her shock, as she did some research, (and to be honest to my shock as well - cause I just cannot believe no one thought of this before her!) she discovered that no "dating site" existed that catered to putting disabled people together. Perhaps that is because many feel they want to "mainstream". Or perhaps no one felt it was financially viable.
Efrat obviously is not a quitter. She went ahead and established "Love Davka" a dating site which is dedicated, but not exclusively so, for the disabled. As Efrat is quoted in the article:
"The whole idea for lovedavka came out a conversation with a friend, but I was certain that a site like it already existed. I couldn't believe it didn't, and as soon as I realized that, I hired someone to do the programming for me. I knew that if I was going to do it, it had to be professional."Today, Love Davka, is part of the Jdate Network, which is owned by Spark Networks. The site has been up and running since 2004. I have no idea if this site is a well-kept secret or not. I do know that it is needed and a fantastic idea. I personally think it should be made into English as well, to cover the Anglo speaking community as well as all those who live all over the world. Just like Jdate has in its normal site.
If you do know of anyone who is disabled and needs to get out into a community - then please tell them about Love Davka. This is an important, critical contribution to the community, and Efrat should be praised for her stubborn pushing of this project. And lest you think that well "who is going to find their match on such a site" - well here is Ohad and Adi, who met via Love Davka.
Sometimes it is the little things that really mean so much. Sometimes it is the important things. Sometimes even among the news items about corruption and violence and death, one can find a gem. Efrat Eliahu can teach us all a few things about perseverance in the face of great obstacles.
Again, if you know of anyone that can benefit from this site - Love Davka - hold their hand and make them sign up. It is really a lesson in how to use Internet technology to the benefit of all.
Posted by Ted Gross at 2:34 PM
Saturday, April 28, 2007
The JTA, Global News Service carried a piece written by D. Estrin who it seems, is a volunteer host on a new radio called Radio All For Peace. This news item entitled, "Eschewing revenge, station broadcasts message of hope", tells the story of the recent Yom HaZikaron show up at Radio All For Peace.
The following is an excerpt from the beginning of this article, the whole piece can be read at JTA.
Bilingual show broadcasts hopeIsrael's Memorial Day is not - nor ever has been - nor ever was meant to be - a day to express the pain of death for all.Now before anyone jumps up and starts screaming either from the left or the right, I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into any useless political discussion about the Palestinians, Israel, rights of people etc. etc. And I am sure as hell not going to get into the argument of whose blood is more red, thicker, or which pain is greater. NO. That is not the point here. The point to this post is something totally different.
Radio All for Peace, an Israeli-Palestinian station, broadcasts a message of hope in both Hebrew and Arabic.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- As they usually do, Israeli radio stations marked this year's Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism by switching their playlists to somber tunes.
But Radio All For Peace, a Jerusalem-based, Israeli-Palestinian station whose listeners are split about evenly between Israel and the Palestinian territories, extended its Memorial Day commemoration across borders: It broadcast a daylong marathon of interviews with bereaved families on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The interviews were taken from the station's weekly show "New Direction," hosted in Hebrew and Arabic by Israeli Sharon Mishiker and Palestinian Aziz Abu Sarah, each of whom lost a brother in the conflict.
The hosts belong to the Bereaved Families Forum, an organization of Israeli and Palestinian families whose loved ones were killed in the conflict and who work toward reconciliation between the two peoples.
In each hourlong program, the "New Direction" hosts interview a Palestinian and an Israeli from the forum about why they chose dialogue over revenge.
"There are many differences between Palestinians and Israelis, the war isn't over and the killings haven't ended -- but the pain of bereavement that exists on both sides is an equal pain," Mishiker and Abu Sarah said on the air Monday morning, in alternating Hebrew and Arabic, as they introduced the Memorial Day marathon.
"To honor both peoples and their emotions, and with a deep commitment to forwarding peace and reconciliation, Radio All For Peace decided to dedicate this day to the bereaved on both sides who chose a pathway of reconciliation and peace building, and not a pathway of revenge and killing."
The 12-hour broadcasts began at 8 a.m. and alternated between an hour of quiet music in Arabic and Hebrew and an hour of interviews. The marathon ended in time for Israel's Independence Day.
"Each side, the Palestinian side and the Israeli side, tends to recognize its own pain and ignore the other's pain," said Shimon Malka, the station's Israeli co-director. "Through this day of programming, Radio All For Peace's message is clear: No one is alone. Pain is not exclusive."
I have no problems with anyone, any group, any people, any radio station, who wishes to bring the "pain" of death to the public attention. If the cause is worthy in the person's eyes, then "so be it". And if I feel, personally, that the cause is worthy or not worthy, I will either listen or watch the show or not. I will make my opinion clear and known if that is what I feel should be done.
In this case though, it is not the statements made about pain which could come from Grade-C literary fiction that is wrong. It is not even the "cause". It is the fact that the radio show in its attempt to show that pain is engendered on both sides, also showed and aired a total and complete lack of understanding of what Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) is in Israel, and what it represents. And by doing so they insulted not only those who died in Israel's wars defending this country, but they insulted their families, friends and the entire circle of people who are effected by the death of a soldier or those killed by terrorists. The radio show represents the focal point of what is wrong when you try and attach some foreign element into a day that was made to represent something totally different.
Yom HaZikaron is memorial day for those who fell in action defending the Jewish State and the Jewish people, along with those who were killed by terrorist activity. That is what it is for. Nothing else. Nothing more. It is there for us, the JEWISH PEOPLE, to remember our dead. And it makes no difference if the families of those who were killed, or those who died, were on the left, right or middle of the political spectrum. It is a Memorial Day for one specific purpose. TO REMEMBER.
Don't you dare, in the name of some very warped idea of the need to show pain and suffering, don't you dare ever belittle, change, or put your hands on and try to change the meaning of Israel's Memorial Day. That is insulting, stupid and degrading.Indeed, for those who ask the question why is Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) always the day immediately before Yom Hatzmaut (Independence Day), there are two answers, both equally valid and equally part of history. When the days were established in our calendar, there was obviously no question as to Independence Day as it was on 5th of Iyyar (the day Israel was proclaimed a Modern State), and the founders of the modern state wanted the sacrifice to always be remembered. Thus they placed Memorial Day immediately before Independence Day. This too was based upon the well known verse from Ecclesiastes:
"It is better to go to a house of mourning than a house of joy - for this is the end of all man, and it is good for the living to pay heed." (7:2)From this verse comes the well-established practice, if one must go to a shiva or funeral or a wedding, one goes first to the house of mourning and then one goes to the place of joy. One FIRST honors and remembers one's dead - then one goes on to celebrate the Independence and State these dead bought with their sacrifice.
Yom HaZikaron is NOT an all inclusive day for the dead of all those who died. It is not a day which was declared to remember the "pain or horror" of war in the Middle East. It is not a day that is "anti-war" and it is not some extension of some anti-war rally being held in front of the Knesset or in front of the White House. It is not a protest march.
Israel's Memorial Day IS NOT - NOR EVER HAS BEEN - NOR EVER WAS MEANT TO BE - A DAY TO EXPRESS THE PAIN OF DEATH FOR ALL.
I am not saying, and let me make this incredibly clear - I am not saying that the Palestinians should not have their own Memorial Day. If they want to establish it - go for it. If you agree with its goal, then by all means take part in the ceremonies of the Palestinian Memorial Day.
But don't you dare, in the name of some very warped idea of the need to show pain and suffering, don't you dare ever belittle, change, or put your hands on and try to change the meaning of Israel's Memorial Day. That is insulting, stupid and degrading.
Worse - it shows a total lack of understanding of what Yom HaZikaron is all about. And it makes no difference if you have a relative that was killed in the wars. That does NOT give you legitimacy to turn this day into something it was never meant to be.
Yom Ha'Zikaron is a day to remember our war dead. ONLY THAT. Nothing more. It is not a protest day. It is not a day for political statements - and if I ever saw a political statement this is it.
You want to remember the dead of the Palestinians. Great. Establish a Palestinian Memorial Day and announce it to the world. But do us all a favor. Leave those who died, murdered and slaughtered for the modern State of Israel out of it.
Left or Right - There Is Something Really Really Wrong With This.
Don't Belittle or Cheapen Memorial Day.
Leave Israel's Memorial Day (Yom Ha'Zikaron) Alone!
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman's piece, "'Yom Kippur's The Obstacle' - A Look Into The Future", is an incredible piece of editorial journalism. I actually had to read this piece twice, and then yet again a third time, to make sure I was reading "a look into the future" and not some commentary on today's news. Rabbi Feldman was for many years a Rabbi in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a former editor of Tradition Magazine. Yet, none of these credits do justice to the writing of this piece.
If I woke up tomorrow and saw these comments made for real in one of our daily papers, and the decision to create a Government endorsed "Yom Kippur Committee", I would not be surprised in the least. Indeed I would read it, shake my head in disgust and wonder at the stupidity of it all.In it Rabbi Feldman somewhat theorizes (I say somewhat as it is really very close to the nerve of truth) about a day in our not so distant future, when a Government ministerial committee puts together a "report" on how to ease our suffering on Yom Kippur and lighten the load of the fast. Truth be told, anyone who has been in Israel for more than a year, would greet such news of a committee being formed as part of the "normal" course of events here in this country.
Normally when I email the writer of an op-ed they gladly give permission to reproduce their piece at The View From Jerusalem. However, in this case I am a bit wary or reproducing the entire article, so I will just excerpt from the beginning here. I really suggest that everyone read the article in the Jerusalem Post OnLine by clicking here.
I have in my hands a copy of the eagerly awaited Inter-Ministerial Committee to Re-Examine Yom Kippur Practices report. The reexamination is in response to widespread demands, led by liberals and the secular media, to loosen the Yom Kippur restrictions, which have become a major stumbling block for non-Jewish immigrants who want to convert to Judaism.Recently in a discussion I had with my of children, I mentioned the centrality of Yom Kippur in the Jewish psyche. We were discussing writing, and a collection of short stories that I have written, (some of which have been published). I told my son I noticed lately that some of my short stories seem to revolve around Yom Kippur. I was reminded of Chaim Potok's book, "My Name Is Asher Lev" - where his argument was that even to a Jew the suffering of Jesus on the cross could prove to be a focal point of suffering in portrayal of human suffering and pain. I always thought that depiction to be "off" for many reasons. Actually I kind of thought it to be total BS even in my rebellious days. Though only recently did I realize that while not a "visual" - the very same depiction of human suffering, pain, doubt, love and hate can and is at the very heart of Yom Kippur.
Transcripts of interviews with these immigrants reveal that many abandoned the conversion process because of the adamant attitude of the rabbinic courts. The immigrants, most of whom are Russian, were willing to accept Judaism, but balked when told about Yom Kippur.
"These restrictions are 3,500 years old. Why should I have to deny myself food and drink for 24 hours?" asked one potential convert.
"This is the 21st century, not primitive times," said another. "These uncaring rabbis force things upon us, refusing to compromise. If they cared, they would not prohibit food for a full day."
OTHER IMMIGRANTS stated they were willing to go along with other unreasonable demands, such as forswearing bread and eating tasteless matza for the entire Pessah week, and even to suffer the resultant stomach problems.
"We were even willing to celebrate that other festival by eating cold soup in an unheated Succa during chilly autumn nights. But these harsh Yom Kippur demands are the last straw. The rabbis obviously do not welcome us."
Others complained that though they love the benefits that Israel gives its immigrants, these religious demands are cruel and unusual. "Not only would we not be able to eat, but also not to drink. Have we left one Gulag to enter another? We pleaded with these medieval rabbis, but they would not budge. Do they not know that it is dangerous to go without water? One could become dehydrated."
Other immigrants were shocked to discover that the Yom Kippur prayers take several hours at night, and then continue from sunrise to sunset the entire next day. "Even Russian Easter services take only a fraction of that time. And one may eat on Easter!" ...
In truth, Rabbi Feldman actually hit upon a raw nerve in his piece. Truth be told, there are many who have no understanding, no knowledge and certainly no desire to even try to understand the centrality of Judaism that lies in this one holiday and fast day. Truth be told, some do see the fact that nothing moves in Israel on this day, as an abdication of their rights to do what they please. Truth be told, and let us just say it like they do, to many "Yom Kippur is just a royal pain in the ass".
Rabbi Feldman's article scares me. It scares me because it is just one step away from becoming reality. It sometimes seems that we are truly that close. It scares me because if we as a people loose Yom Kippur, then truly we will loose our very souls. Certainly, history has proved to us that once one looses Yom Kippur, the Cross comes in its stead. And whereas for the believing Christian this is just what the Cross should be, one could hardly eliminate the Cross from Christian doctrine and theology. Imagining Judaism and the Jewish State without Yom Kippur, is a chilling thought.
All the more frightening because if I woke up tomorrow and saw these comments made for real in one of our daily papers, and the decision to create a Government endorsed "Yom Kippur Committee", I would not be surprised in the least. Indeed I would read it, shake my head in disgust and wonder at the stupidity of it all. But I would not question the fact that it is real. It would not occur to me that it was some sort of cynical piece. After 30 years in this country, I would easily accept that some politician managed to push this idea through the Knesset.
And that truly is sad.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Well, it is time to get back to business in The View From Jerusalem and time to begin once again.
Recently over in Cobwebs Of The Mind, I posted a series dealing with the presentation of the swastika in public in our day and age. If you wish to read these posts and what brought them on you can do so in Cobwebs Of The Mind under the Category Label of: Swastika Journal.
But The View From Jerusalem has suffered enough from neglect and surely there is always something of interest going on in the world that effects the world Jewish community and Israel in particular. But when my eyes caught this piece reported in the Jerusalem Post from France, I realized time had come to begin once again the posts in The View From Jerusalem.
In an article entitled: Jewish woman suffers vicious anti-Semitic attack in France, the Post reports:
A 22-year-old Jewish woman suffered a vicious anti-Semitic attack by two men of Middle Eastern appearance in a train station in Marseille, France on Thursday night.
The attackers tore the Star of David chain from around the young woman's neck, lifted her up, painted a swastika on her stomach and then fled the scene.
Local police opened an investigation into the attack but had not yet found the assailants.
Head of the Jewish Agency delegation in France, David Roche, said the incident was the most severe anti-Semitic attack in France since the murder of the young Jewish male Ilan Halimi by a gang of Muslim youths in February 2006.
The attackers tore the Star of David chain from around the young woman's neck, lifted her up, painted a swastika on her stomach and then fled the scene.The State of Israel is 59 years old. The Holocaust is 60 years in our past. Some people would demand we forget it. Some people say the human race has become more enlightened. Some people say that we suffer to much from our Holocaust complex. Some people tell us as Jews to move on. Forgive and forget.
Those "some people" are wrong. Dead Wrong. And if we dare for a moment to forget our past as well, we too will be as culpable as those who perpetrate such acts.
Perhaps it is time for France in its great waving of the flag of democratic freedom for all - to protect its citizens - even if they happen to be Jewish. Just imagine the outcry if we reversed the picture and painted a Star of David on some 22 year old Muslim woman's stomach! Imagine the front pages. Imagine the disgust. Imagine the hatred such an act would engender and rightfully so.
The Swastika once again comes out in all its glory. And if we can pass over reports like this in the newspaper without shivering in fear, than we have truly let the Swastika bearers win.
We have moved into the future and as we have done so we have also taken a step back into the dark, evil, not-so-distant past.
Posted by Ted Gross at 10:39 PM