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Monday, April 30, 2007

It Took You This Long To Figure It Out?

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."

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."
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.

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.

And the only question that remains for the Winograd Commission:

It took you this long to figure it out?

Posted On: The View From Jerusalem

Sunday, April 29, 2007

We All Are Entitled To Finding Love

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 On: The View From Jerusalem

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Leave Israel's Memorial Day (Yom Ha'Zikaron) Alone!

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 hope
Daniel Estrin

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."
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.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.

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.


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!

Posted On: The View From Jerusalem

The Rites of Yom Kippur

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.

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!" ...
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.

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.

Posted On: The View From Jerusalem

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back To The Future

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 On: The View From Jerusalem