Jewish Blog

The Kotel and Conversion Controversy- A Tempest In A Teapot?

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As I sat in my living room yesterday on an overcast fast day marking the beginning of the three week mourning period for the two destroyed Temples in Jerusalem, I could not help but reflect on the current Kotel and Conversion controversy which threatens to weaken the ties between Israel and its brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. One of the main reasons the Rabbis give for the destruction of the Second Temple, is Sinas Chinom, the baseless hatred of one Jew to another. This, I fear, is what this controversy may lead to.

Does Israel really not care for Diaspora Jews and is it indifferent to their feelings and religious beliefs? Is Israel a country a country controlled by the Haredim, or (Ultra Orthodox), whose every whim is honored? Do secular, Reform and Conservative Jews really not have a place where they can pray as they wish in the Kotel complex?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel values and appreciates Diaspora Jews of all types. The country is not controlled by Haredim. In fact, 44% of Israeli Jews self identify as secular, while only 9% identify as Haredim. There is a pretty area near the Kotel set up for egalitarian prayer. Unlike the separate areas for men and women at the Kotel, which are often crowded and under the direct sun, the egalitarian area is shaded and often empty.

So why the uproar? It’s mainly about the Compromise bill on the Kotel, the Western Wall, which was approved by Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Haredi ministers, but frozen at the last minute at the behest of the Haredi party in the government. Yes, since the Haredim initially approved the compromise, they should have gone along with it. if the compromise was not acceptable to them, they should never have approved it. If later they were not happy with it, they should have discussed their objections with the other parties to the compromise. The freezing of the compromise bill and the lack of notice and consultation with parties to the agreement, greatly angered those affected, especially, the Reform and Conservative movements. The bill would have given the power to oversee the egalitarian space to a committee that would have included representatives of Conservative and Reform Judaism. The freezing of the bill means that the egalitarian area will continue to be overseen only by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. This loss of power over a segment of Judaism’s holiest site was a big blow to the non Orthodox movements and they reacted accordingly.

However, their reactions made it seem as if the Israel government had denied the right of non Orthodox people to pray in an egalitarian area at the Wall. That’s fake news. The egalitarian area is alive and well and this bill does not change that. In fact, the government said that the area will be enlarged and made even more  aesthetically pleasing. However, through this bill, Conservative and Reform Judaism hoped to gain official recognition as alternate forms of Judaism in Israel. Both the Reform and Conservative movements are very weak in Israel, as Israelis who are religious are generally traditional, Orthodox or Haredi, and those who are secular usually do not belong to any movement. So this was the opportunity the  two movements were waiting for to become official alternate forms of Judaism, and it failed.

While their disappointment and anger is justified, making it seem that the Israeli government is ignoring the needs of Diaspora Jews is just not true. There is an egalitarian area for prayer and no one is taking that away. The potential loss of power of the Conservative and Reform movements of the egalitarian prayer space is inconsequential to all but the movements’ leaders. Members of these movements will not be affected in any way by the freezing of the Compromise bill.

The Conversion bill which would have given sole authority for conversions in Israel to the Chief Rabbinate also would not change the status of Reform and Conservative Jews. All conversions in Israel are currently done under Orthodox auspices. The bill would only have prevented private Orthodox courts, a desirable alternative for many, from granting conversions in Israel. The conversion bill would not have changed anything under the Law of Return.

The Kotel is a religious area. Religious Jews have been praying there and preserving its holiness for millennia. They pray daily for the restoration of the Temple and fast a few times a year to commemorate events which negatively affected the Temples’ existence. The Kotel is open to all, as is the egalitarian area. The failure of the Compromise bill to pass has not affected the rights of secular Jews to pray there in any way. All Jews, no matter how they were converted in the Diaspora, are still Israeli citizens under the Law of Return.

So let’s put this incident in perspective. Leaders of the Reform and Conservative movement suffered a loss of power, but their members were not negatively affected in any way. So let’s stop insinuating that the Israeli government took away the rights of secular Jews to pray, or failed to appreciate their invaluable contributions to Israel.

In these trying times, when anti semitism is rebounding, let’s remember that we are all Jews, regardless of our way of showing it. Let’s unite behind Israel, which is the only Jewish state in the world and the only country which can guarantee that Jews will not be discriminated against because they are Jewish. Israel needs the Diaspora Jews and the Diaspora Jews need Israel.

Show your support by coming to Israel and praying at the Kotel or its egalitarian area. You’ll be glad you did.

Categories: Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Judaism, religion, religious freedom, Western Wall Kotel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom Is Not Free- Remembering The Fallen Heroes

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                                                                                                                                                           http://www.flickr.com/people/45644610@N03

 

Israel will be 69 years old on  the night of May 1, 2017.

Those 69 years have been filled with both joy and sorrow. Israel has fought in 8 wars and military operations since its founding in 1948. Over 23,000 soldiers have been killed as a result of these operations and over 3,000 civilians have lost their lives due to terrorist attacks.

In a country as small as Israel (the most recent survey showed that Israel has about 8.7 million people), almost everyone has either had a family member killed or injured, or knows someone who was so affected.  

Therefore, unlike most Americans today, Israel takes Memorial Day very seriously.  

In 1968, The United States Congress changed the date of Memorial Day, which was originally May 30, to the last Monday in May to create a three day weekend. This has diluted the purpose of the day. On Memorial Day in the United States, the U.S. flag is lowered to half staff until noon. Americans who have lost family members or friends in the various wars and conflicts in which the United States has been engaged visit cemeteries to pay tribute to the fallen. Many attend Memorial Day parades which feature veterans and members of the various Armed Forces. There is also a National Memorial Day Concert which takes place on the lawn of the United States Capitol.

However, for most Americans the Memorial Day weekend means the unofficial start of the summer season, the Indy 500, NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, The Memorial Tournament golf event, the final of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship, and, of course, Memorial Day Sales and barbecues.

In 2000, perhaps in response to the dilution of the meaning of the day, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember the fallen at 3:00 P.M on Memorial Day Monday. To mark the Moment, Major League Baseball games halt, Amtrak train whistles sound across the country, and other organisations do what they can to remind Americans to observe the Moment.

For Israel, the pain of the loss of the fallen is very fresh. This year another 97 people were added to that roster of heroes. There are over 9,000 bereaved parents in Israel, almost 5,000 widows and close to 2,000 orphans under the age of 30, all of whom lost a family member fighting for Israel’s right to exist. This number does not include the relatives and friends of the over 3,000 civilians killed by terrorists.

Israel understands all too well the debt of gratitude it owes to its soldiers and its heroes who sacrificed their lives so that Israel could exist and be free. Therefore, Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron, is taken very seriously.

It officially begins with a one minute siren, heard throughout the country, at 8 P.M., during which the entire nation stands still for one minute. Even traffic is halted. This is followed by an official State Ceremony at the Western Wall (the Kotel) in Jerusalem and other gatherings and services throughout the country. (Israelis take this moment so seriously that yesterday, Sunday,  a group of Israelis on a flight from Marrakesh to Munich stood silently for one minute  at 8 P.M.)

For the next 24 hours, all theatres, cinemas, nightclubs, bars, etc. are closed. Radio and television station broadcast programs portraying the lives and heroic deeds of fallen soldiers and play melancholy music which conveys the mood of the day.

A second memorial siren, this one lasting for two minutes, is sounded at 11 A.M. the next morning, marking the beginning of the public recitation of prayers in the military cemeteries throughout the country. The official service is held at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. Flags are lowered to half staff, special memorial prayers are recited, government officials speak, and a wreath is laid. The ceremony usually concludes with a military gun salute.

At 1PM another national service takes place at Mt. Herzl, this one honoring the memories of those felled by terrorist acts.

This year over 1.5 million Israelis are expected to pay their respects at the graves of those killed in Israel’s struggles.

Schools are open, but almost every high school in Israel has a “memorial corner” with the pictures of the school’s graduates who were killed defending the State. Some high schools organize their own Yom Hazikaron ceremonies and invite the families of the fallen graduates to participate.

Students wear white shirts and blue pants, or skirts, to school that day and soldiers wear their uniforms to the military cemeteries.

A few minutes after sundown, when Memorial day ends, the official switch from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, takes place. In a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, the flag is raised from half staff to the top of the pole. The president of Israel then delivers a speech of congratulations, and soldiers representing the Army, Navy, and Air Force parade with their flags. This is followed by a torch lighting ceremony, marking the country’s achievements, Many municipalities have their own flag ceremony in which students march with the Israeli flag.

Israelis celebrate Independence Day in a number of ways. Many cities have nighttime activities, fireworks and free concerts. Many spend the night singing Israeli songs and dancing Israeli folk dances. During the day, many families go on hikes and picnics. Others barbeque at home or with family and friends.  Army camps are open to the public and many museums and cultural institutions offer free admission and programs. The day concludes with the granting of the Israeli Prize to individuals who have made unique contributions to Israel’s culture, science, arts and humanities.

The juxtaposition of these two very disparate days and moods is both very moving and meaningful. It helps us realise that freedom is not free. There is a high price to pay and we should be eternally grateful to those who pay it.

Let us  hope that no additional names will be added to the list of the fallen and that we will finally be able to live together in peace.

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Categories: Israel, Israel Independence Day, Israel Memorial Day Yom Hazikaron, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel At 68

Shalom Y”all:

Beginning last night and ending nightfall this evening, Israelis celebrate Yom YaZicharon- the Day of Remembrance. This is Israel’s Memorial Day, the day on which Israel commemorates and pays tribute to Israelis who sacrificed their lives for their country or were killed by terrorists. Unlike America’s Memorial Day which marks the unofficial start of summer and is celebrated by going to the beach and barbecuing, Remembrance Day in Israel is a solemn affair. Sirens sound, the media tells stories of the fallen, and people visit graves of soldiers killed in the line of duty and people felled by terrorist attacks. It may be that the reason Israelis take this day so seriously is because since most Israelis serve in the military or have relatives who do so, death through conflict is not as remote a possibility. Furthermore,  since Israel is such a small country, many many Israelis know someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice, or was injured in conflict, or through a terrorist attack.

As night falls over Israel, the celebration shifts from one of solemnity to one of jubilation- Israel Independence Day has begun. The juxtaposition of the two days reminds all that freedom is not free; it is achieved only through the sacrifice of others.

Although the current State of Israel is only 68 years young, about 3,000 years ago King David defeated the Jebusites and established the capitol of  the first independent Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem. Jews ruled Jerusalem for over five hundred years. They lost their independence when the Romans conquered the city in the year 66 (over five hundred years before the birth of Mohammed) and did not regain it until 1948.

What’s happened to Israel during the last 68 years? Israel has been involved in 13 military conflicts, eight of them  wars. These repeated military actions have resulted in the deaths of  23, 447 Israelis. This past year alone there were 68 Israeli casualties of terrorism. Israel today has 9,000 families who have lost a loved one to war or terrorism, including close to 5,000 war widows. Israel is currently threatened by Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iran and the Palestinians.

In efforts to make peace, Israel uprooted 2,500 people from the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula (Yamit) as part of the peace treaty with Egypt. As a peace offering to the Palestinians, about 9,000 Israeli citizens were expelled from their homes in Gaza and in four towns on the West Bank,

How has the world reacted to Israeli’s presence in the family of nations?  For the most part by trying to: isolate Israel, delegitimize it and ultimately end its existence. It has even resorted to rewriting history. For example, UNESCO’s executive board recently adopted a resolution ignoring the Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall and pronouncing these and two other biblical Jewish sites,  Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, to be Islamic holy sites. It referred to Hebron and Bethlehem as, “Palestinian sites.” 33 countries voted for this resolution, while only six countries- Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States-  voted against the resolution. Among the countries supporting the resolution were such Christian countries as France, Spain and Sweden. How they could do so when they know that the New Testament speaks of the  Jewish Temple in Jerusalem  and that  Jesus the Jew preached in Jewish Jerusalem hundreds of years before Mohammed was born, speaks to the lack of concern for truth and the power of Islamic constituencies within these countries.

Israel is also plagued by countless NGOS within its borders whose sole purpose is to harm Israel. For an in depth look at what these NGOS and some countries are doing to besmirch Israel, read Catch the Jew, by Tuvia Tenenbom.

Why the wish for Israel’s demise? The existence of the State of Israel is an anathema to those who hate Jews. Instead of Jews being totally subject to the whims of the governments in the countries in which they reside, 43% of the Jews in the world now reside in Israel, a country which is economically stable and has its own defense forces. So to try to bring about the downfall of Israel, the Jew haters criticize virtually every Israeli action. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel, but only 3 resolutions against all the other countries in the world- one against the Syrian regime, which has already murdered 200,000 of its people, one against Iran and one on North Korea. No resolution was adopted against human rights abuses in China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etc.

The BDS movement is alive and well and continues to gain new supporters. Since  criticizing Israel is accepted, it’s not very far from there to anti semitic rants against Jews everywhere. One has only to see the signs carried by protestors in Seattle during anti Israel demonstrations during the Gaza war to see how this has translated to raw anti-semitism. http://www.ruthfullyyours.com/2014/07/16/shocking-anti-semitic-hatefest-in-seattle-appalling-must-see-pictures/

Anti-semitism is now espoused by many groups on the left, including Britain’s Labor Party. Anti Semitism is also on the rise in Europe and Islamic terrorists now routinely target Jews in places such as France. Therefore, among the 36, 000 people who immigrated to Israel last year, about 8,000 were from France. This number is expected to rise.

The Palestinians continue in their efforts to get Israel to make dangerous concessions by using the power of public relations to tell tales that aren’t  true, which most of the world is all too ready to accept.  France and others will soon try to force Israel to make dangerous, one sided, concessions at the Paris “Peace Conference” which, if adopted,  will result in strengthening Hamas and creating additional threats to Israel and the moderate Middle Eastern countries.

So on this 68th birthday, why should Israel celebrate? All this misery, loss of life and hatred are depressing at best. How has Israel reacted? By adopting an attitude of life must go on and let’s live life to the fullest. Israel has become the  “Start Up Nation ” and has invented many of the world’s most innovative products and services such as: amniocentesis, drip irrigation, desalination, drones, baby monitors, office printers, instant messaging, Pillcam, flash drives, Centrino computer ships, Waze,  and Get Taxi. Israel’s concern for others has led it to participate in many humanitarian efforts including being the first on the scene to give relief after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and among the first to send aid to Japan after its 2011 earthquake. Almost daily, Israel rescues wounded Syrians from the war in Syria and treats them is Israeli hospitals. These Syrians are probably enemies of Israel and many may be members of Al Quaida affiliated groups. Since 2013, more than 2,000 Syrians  have been saved. This despite the fact that Syria has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has fought against it.

Israel’s military is among the strongest and most moral armies in the world, even notifying civilians in targeted areas (“roof knocking”) of upcoming attacks. ( The United States forces have now begun to do this in Iraq). Ultra Orthodox Jews and Arabs within Israel, especially Christian Arabs, are beginning to volunteer for the Israeli Army. (Like Jews, Druze Arabs are conscripted into the army and are truly loyal Israeli citizens.) Israel’s economy is robust. And, of course, unlike most Arab countries who refused to accept Palestinian refugees and now Syrian refugees, Israel absorbed millions of Jewish refugees, many from underdeveloped countries. Finally, polls indicate that Israel is one of the happiest countries in the world.

So let’s celebrate Israel’s miraculous existence and wish it a true peace with all its neighbors.

Categories: Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Middle East, Politics, Pro Israel Post, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Chanukah Hanukkah Is Almost Here

Shalom Y’All:

It’s been almost four months since we made aliyah, but it seems like years.

During this time In Israel we bought a new car, a new stovetop,  a new TV, and various small appliances which we should have bought in the States.

We’ve prayed in  a number of different synagogues, seen an excellent play in English, been invited to a Shabbat meal with two couples we did not know before, attended an Israeli wedding, and celebrated  the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah here.

Despite the fact that the neighborhood we live in has both religious and secular residents, there were few cars on the street on Rosh Hashanah and no cars at all on Yom Kippur. In fact, on Yom Kippur, many kids ride their bikes on the streets throughout Israel since the streets are free of vehicles. On Sukkot, many food establishments have their own succahs and it is very interesting to see multiple sukkot on streets with restaurants. Jerusalem and many other cities have large public sukkot featuring free entertainment. There is a festive holiday atmosphere in Israel throughout Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

We’ve also spent loads of time filing out forms, including those required to: open a bank account and a checking account,  buy a car, obtain an Israeli Driver’s license-which requires multiple completed forms, an eye test , at least one driving lesson and a driving test, even though we have American licenses – obtain temporary Israeli passports issued after being in Israel for at least three months, but less than a year.

I also attend an Ulpan (one run by the City of Jerusalem) three days a week from 8:30 AM (everything begins early in Israel) to 1 PM. The Ulpan is a school for learning the Hebrew language. The government pays for the first 500 hours of instruction, which, at three days a week, is about ten months. The school administrator tests every student before she assigns them to a class. Those with no knowledge of Hebrew are assigned to a class which meets five days a week, while those with fairly good Hebrew skills attend only twice a week. The rest are three day a weekers. While instruction is in Hebrew, there is, in my humble opinion, too much of an emphasis on grammar. Too little time is spent on conversation. This may be because the classes are too large to engage in meaningful conversation.

The classes composition is like a mini UN. My class has a number of French speaking students from France, a Spanish and Portuguese speaking student from Brazil, English speakers from the United States, a Danish student, an Australian, a Canadian and other students whose origins I do not know since they are new.

It’s getting cool in Jerusalem, although it’s still much warmer in the southern part of the country.  Somehow, I neglected to take everyday turtlenecks with me and I have yet to find a store that sells them. Shipping them from America is very expensive, as the cost of shipping often exceeds the cost of the purchase. The only thing to do is to wait until someone I know visits Israel and is willing to bring a few items with them for me. It seems Israelis do not wear turtlenecks, although I’m not sure why. Correction: I have been told of a store that sells turtlenecks in Geula, a religious neighborhood in Jerusalem.

On a more serious note, there is a slight undercurrent of anxiety in the country due to the  Arab violence. While the threat is real, statistically the probability of any particular person getting hurt is much much less than the chances of getting hurt in an auto accident. Still, it’s unnerving and people at bus stops, for example, try to sit or stand with their backs to the wall. It’s most unfortunate that the incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Isis has created a situation where young Arabs are led to believe that stabbing and killing a Jew is somehow defending Jerusalem for Islam and a desirable act. Building additional barriers around Jerusalem and increased intelligence have helped curb the violence here and the majority of the incidents are now taking place in the territories.  But, hopefully, this too shall pass. In the meantime, Jews are just a tad more careful and those licensed to carry firearms are increasingly doing so.

On a brighter note, Chanukah Hanukkah begins in three weeks. Here are some unique Chanukah shirts and gifts:

Make Latkes Chanukah T-Shirt

Funny Latkes Chanukah t Shirt

Hanukkah Lights Hooded Sweatshirt

Funny Hanukkah Lites Hoodie

Real Men Make Latkes Chanukah Tank Top

It takes a Real Man to Make a Perfect Hanukkah Latke

Oy To The World Funny Jewish Zip Hoodie

Funny Hanukkah Hoodie and Oh So True.

These shirts and hoodies come in many sizes, styles and colors. Buy one for yourself or give them as Chanukah gifts. See the entire collection at JewTee’s Chanukah Hanukkah Shirts and Gifts.

Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish T Shirts and Gifts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

JewTee Blog Purim Edition

Shalom Y’All:

As I hope you know, Purim begins on the eve of March 4 and ends nightfall March 5. On Purim we celebrate our salvation through Queen Esther from the edict Haman prepared to annihilate all the Jews in the Persian empire.

On Purim Jews listen to the Megillah at night and the following morning, give Shalach Monos- gifts of food and/or drink to family and friends- charity to the poor  and eat a big meal in the late afternoon. In the carnival spirit of the day, kids, and often adults, dress in costumes and liquid refreshment of all kinds is imbibed.

In the topsy -turvey spirit of the day, I bring you the latest “news”:

Obama Netanyahu Friends At Last

Let’s Be Friends, Make Amends, Now’s the Time To Say I’m Sorry.

In a bombshell announcement today, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have agreed to bury the hatchet, become friends and learn from one another. President Obama will teach PM Netanyahu how to shoot basketballs into baskets while PM Netanyahu will teach President Obama how to shoot sunflower seed husks from the mouth into a bowl.


 

Sunny Days Ahead

Jew Are Refugees

In a shocking reversal of long-standing policy, the newly appointed Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Sun, has declared that all Jews living outside of Israel are refugees and has pledged 3 billion dollars to their resettlement in Israel. Consequently, UNWRA will be disbanded and a new agency, UNIRA (United Nations Israel Resettlement Agency) will be established.

Mr. Sun reached for comment at his residence in New York, explained that since all Jews once lived in Israel, any Jew not living there now is a refugee. Furthermore, he explained, since the borders of ancient Israel encompass much more land than the current state, Jews will be free to live anywhere within the ancient borders of the Jewish state. Arabs who wish to continue living there may do so if they agree to be “dhimiis.” (Druze Arabs and the families of Bedouin, Muslim and Christian Arabs who have served in the Israeli army will enjoy full rights.) Arabs who are unhappy with this turn of events will be free to move to any of the 22 Arab countries in the Middle East.

Reached for comment after this bombshell announcement, former West Coast Bank President Atbat said, “Oh well, we gave it a good shot. I’ve always wanted to ‘paint the town red’ in Tel Aviv and now I’ll have my chance.”

Hummus leaders in Graze City also seemed resigned to the new state of affairs. They explained that they had been offered a lucrative financial opportunity to turn their rockets into drones to be used to deliver packages from e-commerce companies to residents of the Jewish state and to turn their tunnels into underground shopping malls. The entire Graze Strip will become a vacation playland with separate beaches for men and women, and rocket building and tunnel digging activities for kids.

 

Green Is Better Than Red

Green Is Better Than Red

As to their enmity of the Jewish State, Hummus head Khabead Mashup said, “While I was having a good smoke on my Hookah, it came to me. We’ve tried to fight them. That didn’t work. It just gave us tons of rubble to clean up and many funerals to attend. So now, we may as well join them and get our hands on some real money.  When we feel like fighting and getting our own state, we’ll just attack one of the 22 Arab countries who did so little to help us.”

 


 

Beauty Is In The Eyes Of The Beholder

Beauty Is In The Eyes of  The Beholder

Hussle Realhoney, Iran’s Leader, shocked the world today by announcing it was renouncing  the manufacture of nuclear weapons and instead focusing on establishing a yearly Purim contest. (Iran, formerly Persia, is the location of the original Purim story.) “Instead of being hit with sanctions and losing revenue from the lack  of oil sales, we will make Tehran the world’s wealthiest city. Girls from all over the world will come to Tehran for the title of the world’s most beautiful girl. Contestants, who will need to be sponsored by their home country, will spend months being pampered and prepped with the world’s best beauty products. Of course, in keeping with our traditions, female contestants will have to be fully clothed with only parts of their faces allowed to be seen. Since true beauty lies on the inside, however, there is no need for  greater exposure.”

On the day of the contest, all contestants will appear before the “King” who will judge their beauty and abilities and pick that year’s World Beauty Queen. The Queen’s responsibilities will include selfies with all World Leaders.

Asked who the “King” would be, Beauty Contest developers said that while no final decision had been made, those in the running included: Prince Charles, Big Sean, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Simon Cowell and Jesse James, all of whom have chosen women other than those they were married to.

Despite thousands of requests from married men, the part of Queen Vashti will not be played by the wife of a married man.

That’s it for now.

HAPPY PURIM TO ALL!

Categories: Israel, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Humor, Purim, Purim, religion | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

UNWRA Foments Hatred Towards Israel

Shalom:

In a previous post, I complained about the United Nations Human Rights Council. Today I would like to address the stance of UNWRA towards Israel.

The formation of the State Of Israel resulted in the creation of both Jewish and Arab refugees.

Between 800,000 to 1,000,000 Jews were forced to flee from the Arab lands in which many of them had lived for over a thousand years. Over half a million of these Jewish refugees were absorbed in the newly created tiny State of Israel without any compensation from the Arab lands who had confiscated their property and possessions. The United Nations also did not provide any assistance.

About 700,000 Arabs living in Palestine either fled or were forced to flee. Unlike Israel, the many neighboring large Arab countries did not absorb these refugees. Instead, in 1949, the United Nations created UNWRA, the “United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.”

The workload of UNWRA should be lessening each year, as the original refugees pass on. However, the United Nations in its infinite “wisdom”, decided to broaden the definition of a refugee, for Palestinians only, from a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster to include patrilineal descendants of the original refugees as well. So, had the usual definition of refugee been used, the number of Palestinian refugees today would be between 30,000 to 50,000. Instead, the number is between five to six million.

Of course, UNWRA’s staff has had to grow and continues to grow as the number of refugees increases. UNWRA also administers large “Palestinian refugee” camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and provides social services there as well.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 1.25 million “Palestinian refugees,” live in Gaza, about two thirds of its population. About half of Gaza’s residents receive UNWRA food supplies and more than a quarter live in UNRWA refugee camps. UNWRA runs 245 schools, 22 medical facilities and eight refugee camps in Gaza. It employs more than 11,000 people and is Gaza’s second largest employer 

Rather than seeking to resolve the problem by encouraging Arab countries to absorb the “refugees,” maintaining neutrality, or trying to lessen the negative view of Israel held by many in Gaza, UNWRA is perpetuating the tradition of hate by fostering the “refugees” unattainable goal of returning to Israel by any means possible, including violence.

To see a distressing graphic representation of the propaganda UNWRA teaches in their schools, click on the following : UNWRA Teaches Palestinian Students that Israel Is Palestine.

To see an organization, whose raison d’être is to bring peace to the world,  encourage educators to teach this type of propaganda in its schools is kafkaesque and a real tragedy. How can Israel ever make peace with people who have been taught since childhood that destroying Israel is their life’s mission?

Categories: Gaza, Israel, Jewish Blog, Middle East, Politics, Pro Israel Post, United Nations, UNWRA, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s Use of “Disproportionate Force”

Shalom:

We have been hearing a lot lately about Israel’s use of “disproportionate force.” I would like to pose the question, What is “‘proportionate force?” Should Israel send unguided rockets into civilian areas of Gaza? Should it dig tunnels into areas near Gazan homes and try to kill and/or abduct the arabs living in the home and surrounding areas? Should its soldiers dress like Hamas “fighters” and try to kill members of Hamas and civilians? 

Some have claimed that while Hamas’ methods are lamentable, Hamas basically has no choice since they are fighting a much better equipped force. Hamas does have choices. Its tunnels can lead to military areas, not civilian homes. Its fighters can don uniforms so it will be easy to distinguish civilians from militants. It can store its armaments and weapons in areas other than schools, homes and mosques, and it can fire from less densely populated areas.

Furthermore, Hamas could have used the money and supplies it received to build houses and develop industry to strengthen the economy. However, Hamas, the ruling terrorist entity elected by the population, uses whatever resources it has towards the purchase and manufacture of military supplies and deep concrete tunnels. So Israel blockades Gaza to try to prevent the flow of military equipment and building material.

Moreover, had the Gazans wanted peace, they could have restarted the very profitable agricultural business that existed when the Jews were in Gaza, using the hothouses left by Israel. Their failure to do so and their election of Hamas to lead them shows that their main interest is confrontation, not coexistence. 

But let’s get back to the main point, “disproportionate force.” What did the United States do in Afghanistan post 9/11? Did it send a few planes? Did it hold peace process meetings with Al-Qaeda? Did it just ask for an international boycott of Afghanistan?

No. It sent over a hundred thousand troops to Afghanistan to fight the enemy. Do I fault them? Not in the least. When a small group, such as Al-Qaeda or Hamas, attacks a larger entity such as the United States or Israel, they can and should expect that these countries will do all they can to keep their citizens safe. America had had enough of Al-Qaeda’s terrorism and it set out to destroy it. One of a country’s main functions is to protect its citizens. Less is not acceptable. So yes, if a small entity attacks a larger entity it can be expected to feel the full force of the larger entity directed against it. The only example of disproportionate force I can conceive of is the use of nuclear or chemical weapons.

When a country’s citizens are forced to run to bomb shelters every few minutes, totally disrupting their lives and causing untold numbers of new PTSD cases; when people are loathe to step out of their homes for fear that they will be kidnapped or killed by terrorists popping out of a hole; then yes, it’s Israel’s duty to do all it can to end the terrorism. 

War is a nasty business. Unfortunately, civilians are often caught in the crossfire and many die as a result. In Afghanistan, for example, although almost 2200 US soldiers have died, the death toll for civilians is over 21,000.

Israel has tried to mitigate civilian deaths by warning residents of an area of immanent attack. No other army has ever done so. With all that, there have been many civilian deaths. The number would have been greatly reduced had Hamas cared enough about the safety and security of Gaza residents to build bomb shelters, rather than tunnels;  locate its armaments and tunnels away from civilian facilities; dressed its soldiers in uniforms so they could clearly be distinguished from civilians; shot from non civilian areas; and advised those in danger to leave their homes. 

Israel is fighting for its existence. Its enemies include Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. But let’s not fool ourselves. Those, like Hamas and the other terrorist groups, who want Israel wiped off the map also hate the United States and other freedom loving countries. A less than complete victory by Israel is a victory for terrorists and the forces of evil worldwide.

Categories: Anti Hamas Post, Gaza War, Hamas, Israel, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Middle East, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy re Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council

Shalom:

It is a well known fact that despite all the violations of human rights around the world, the United Nations seems to be preoccupied with Israel. Beginning in the 1960s, the Arab States and Russia introduced many anti Israel resolutions with the support of the Third World countries. In 1975 the UN adopted the” Zionism is Racism” resolution. This infamous resolution was not repealed until 1991.

The United Nations and its member agencies have continued their pattern of propaganda against the Jewish state. Sadly, one of the worst offenders is the body, created in 2006, charged with the equality and protection of Human Rights, the Human Rights Council (HRC). Its website claims that its mandate is “the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.” 

In 2006, the Council passed a resolution calling for an annual review of Israel’s alleged human rights abuses and the appointment of an individual to report on the Israel Palestine problem. No other country has such a review or reporter.

Also in 2006,  Kofi Annan, then UN secretary-general, stated that the Council should not pay more attention to Israel than other nations, but should pay equal attention to violations by other countries. Needles to say, the Council did not heed him.

The UNHRC continues to single out Israel for alleged violations of human rights. As of 2013, Israel was condemned in 45 resolutions, almost as many as all the other countries combined. Myanmar was next with 10 resolutions. 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is critical of Israel and has called Israel’s response to rocket fire from Hamas “excessive.”

The UNHRC is composed of 47 nations, elected for three-year terms.  The current composition of the countries in the HRC is as follows: 26 Asian and African, eight Latin American, seven Western, and six Eastern European. 18 of the countries belong to an Islamic Organization. Current members include: such paragons of human rights as Algeria, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

The latest attack on Israel occurred on July 23, 2014 when the HRC voted 29-1 to authorize a commission of inquiry to investigate alleged Israeli abuses in Gaza. (The one vote against was cast by the United States. All 11 European countries on the Council abstained.) The resolution condemns “in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic, and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations. ”

The HRC resolution also  “condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire,” and calls for “an end to attacks against all civilians including Israeli civilians.” However, Hamas is not mentioned and, as of this date,  no commission of inquiry studying the human rights violations by Hamas will be established. So, it seems that according to the HRC, shooting rockets into civilian areas, housing rockets and ammunition on homes, schools and mosques and firing from these places, using human shields, kidnapping, building tunnels to attack civilians, etc. are not war crimes when committed by Hamas or its supporters.

To see first hand the absurdity that is the HRC,  spend a few minutes watching the Kafkaesque video of the Commission hard at work on this Israel National News link: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183294#.U9ExHGv5qLs.email

What a farce!

As Israel is not a member of the HRC, it cannot ask that investigators study Hamas’ actions for human rights abuses. It falls to the United States to request that the UNHRC investigate Hamas for war crimes. If you agree, please call, email or write to the President asking him to do so. 

Phone Number: 202-456-1111; White House Email; or

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Another route is to contact your Senators or Congressional representatives and ask that they persuade the President to request an investigation of Hamas’ actions.

Categories: Anti Semitism, Gaza, Gaza War, Israel, Jewish, Jewish Blog, UNHRC, United Nations | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gaza Casualties

Shalom everyone:

Yes, we’re back from Israel. We returned shortly before the war began.

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this entry. Israel has been forced into yet another bloody confrontation with Gaza, the third in six years. Many lives have been lost.

When Israel voluntarily left Gaza in 2005, the hope was that the residents of Gaza would use the greenhouses Israel left over to continue the very profitable agricultural enterprise Israel had abandoned. This would have given Gaza a strong economy and, in all likelihood, resulted in peaceful relations between Israel and Gaza and a high standard of living for its denizens.

No sooner had Israel left, then rockets began to be fired into cities in Israel. Instead, of using the greenhouses, they were dismantled and the metal most likely used for rockets. To make matters worse, Gazans elected Hamas, a terrorist group, to govern the territory.

Hamas has stated time and time again that its aim is to destroy Israel. After gaining control, Hamas proceeded to manufacture and buy more sophisticated rockets which it stored in homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, etc. It then acquired concrete and steel and used them to create tunnels beginning in homes in residential areas of Gaza and ending in Israel. These tunnels were to be used to kidnap and kill Israelis and to obtain weapons. Understandably, Israel tried to keep tight control over goods brought into Gaza.

The current crisis was precipitated by the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, presumably by Hamas, followed by the abduction and murder of an Arab teenager by extremist Israelis. However, the reactions of Israelis and Palestinians to these two murders is quite telling.

When the three boys were discovered dead, Israel combed Gaza looking for the kidnappers, and arrested some Hamas members. However,they were unable to locate the murderers. While Israelis grieved over the loss of the three teenagers, Palestinians rejoiced. They even pictured themselves on social networks smiling broadly and making a special three fingered salute.

When, several days later, news of the murder of the Palestinian teenager was announced, Israel said it would do all it could to capture the perpetrators.True to its word, a few days later, Israel arrested and imprisoned the murderers. There were no pictures of a joyful one fingered salute. Instead, many Israelis sent condolence messages to the boy’s parents and strongly condemned the murderers. Palestinians, even some who are Israeli citizens, rioted and participated in civil unrest.

When Hamas continued its rain of rockets on Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel had no choice but to attack Gaza. The Iron Dome defense system is not perfect and no country should be subjected to incoming rocket fire. The aerial attacks were followed by a ground invasion, as the rockets continued to fall and terrorists were now popping out of tunnels killing Israeli soldiers and attempting to infiltrate Jewish kibbutzim.

Whereas Hamas tries to kill as many Israelis as it can, Israel attempts to minimize deaths by dropping leaflets, and making phone calls warning residents to leave an area prior to shelling. Hamas, however, urges residents to stay. This has resulted in civilian deaths.
Gaza is densely populated and collateral damage from explosions have also killed and injured civilians, as have mistaken targets. These deaths are very regrettable and sad. But make no mistake. Hamas knew this would happen and counted on these deaths to elicit public sympathy for their cause, which, in fact, has happened. Israel has further tried to minimize deaths by setting up field hospitals to care for wounded Gazan civilians./p>

When bombs fall in Israel, sirens sound and Israelis run to bomb shelters. Gaza has no sirens or bomb shelters for its inhabitants, apparently choosing to invest its funds in rockets and tunnels. Its soldiers, intentionally, do not wear uniforms, making it difficult to distinguish between civilians and non civilians.

I believe that peace will come when, to paraphrase Gold Meir, Hamas will love its people more than it hates Israel. Hamas’ use of human shields is unforgivable, and its desire to drive Israel into the sea unattainable. Many lives would be saved if Hamas decided to alter its destructive aim and instead accepted Israel’s right to exist and worked to establish a lasting peace. The quality of life for Gazans would then increase significantly.

I am sure that many people living in Gaza do not wish to continuously battle Israel, but would rather live a normal, peaceful, life. If their voices and votes would drown out those of Hamas and other extremist groups, Gaza could truly be a place of peace and tranquility with a good life for all.

Categories: Anti Hamas Post, Gaza War, Israel, Jewish Blog, Pro Israel Post | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Go Israel- Public Bathrooms

Today I need to talk about something not fit for dinner table conversation. Something every tourist needs to know. Something that can  turn into a humiliating disaster if not dealt with properly….Public bathrooms.

Every frequent traveler knows that the condition of public restrooms, both abroad and in the USA, ranges from the clean and well appointed to the “never again.” What’s described below, while specific to Israel, holds true virtually everywhere.

In all probability,  while you’re busy calling on different tourist hot spots, nature will inevitably call on you. And when she calls you’ll have to answer, even if it causes you great inconvenience. So here’s the lowdown on public bathrooms in general and in Israel specifically:

In Israel, you need to know the Hebrew word for bathrooms – SHERUTIM (SHAY_ROO_TIM).  ”AYFOE” means where. HA means the. So the proper phrase is AYFOE HASHERUTIM? (Where  are the bathrooms?). Memorize this phrase. Say it over and over till you can just rattle it off without thinking. Even if you don’t understand the answer you get when you ask, if you look puzzled people will probably point you in the right direction. Then you can walk that way and ask the next person.

Public bathrooms in Israel can be found in malls, eateries, gas stations, large supermarkets, etc. However, as in the States, the quality varies greatly, as does the extent of the accessories-i.e. toilet paper, soap, the means to dry your hands and locks. To make this post more useful, I’ll break the bathroom down into its various components.

First and foremost, the TOILET itself.

They’re easy to recognize, since most are standard shape. But check out these toilets in the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem.

Mamilla Toilets

Toilet For Squares?

Wonder whom they’re designed for.

Also, look carefully at the picture on the door signifying the intended user. Those international pictures are approaching androgyny. A cursory glance may result in a very embarrassing situation and lots of loud screaming directed at you in a language you don’t understand, which is probably a good thing.

Once you’re finally inside the right bathroom, check out the toilet. The state of cleanliness of the toilet itself concerns the female of the species more than you men, as you don’t really care much about the appearance of the receptacle you use. Anything looking like a toilet will do. Actually, any place where no one can see you will do. So, men, you can just skip this section and move on to the next one.

Now ladies, there’s not much to do about the cleanliness of the receptacle itself, so I’ll focus on the seat. (Not too carefully of course, or we’d never use public bathrooms.) Very few places have disposable seat covers. You know, those thin paper sheets that are virtually impossible to separate from the box without tearing, thus defeating their purpose. You won’t see many of them in Israel.

Also very difficult to find are those seats already fitted with a paper seat cover which replace the old paper cover with a new one at the press of a button. Of course, you’re never sure if the previous user pressed the button upon completion, so you have to press the button anyway before using. Even then, who’s to say that that the new paper is really new, not just recycled.

Beware of the “Yellow Rainmakers” Yes, Israel also has yellow rainmakers. These are the females who “do the squat,” but don’t have good aim. They leave the evidence of their failure (yellow raindrops) on the toilet seat and sometimes on the floor.

TOILET PAPER

Again, this is more of an issue for women than men.

Maybe most public restrooms start the day with toilet paper, but by late afternoon many stalls seem to have exhausted their supply. So ladies, before using the facilities, you must quickly check the stall you are about to enter to see if it has toilet paper. If not, move rapidly to the next one. Keep checking until you find one with paper, or decide to go elsewhere, if that’s possible. (Moving too slowly may result in another woman getting the stall with the toilet paper, thus requiring you to wait until she vacates that stall.) Even if you luck out and find a stall with paper, be careful. Some toilet paper holders are only closed on one end, (see photo below) which means that tugging the roll improperly will result in the roll crashing to the floor, or even worse, into the bowl.

Israel Toilet Paper Holder

See me roll.

SOAP:

Who needs soap? We all do, except that’s not what the owners of many restroom facilities think. While some public bathrooms have soap, many do not.

HAND DRYING EQUIPMENT:

Most bathrooms have some form of hand dryers, but many don’t. Here are the most common types:

Paper Towels: A vanishing species. Even if the holders are there, they often do not contain anything. Paper towels are probably being eliminated because they are messy, costly, require frequent replacement and actually do the job they are intended for.

Hand Blowers: The old-fashioned kind rarely work and if any air does come out, it’s likely to be cold.

Hand Dryers New Type:  Public bathrooms often feature a thin U-shaped contraption with two closely spaced panels between which you insert your hands. (However, it’s very hard not to touch one or both of the walls, which probably contains residue from other people’s wet hands.) When the machine senses that wet hands have been placed into it, blasts of whooshing air engulf the hands from the sides and bottom. Since the U-shape is open upwards, air (and a healthy dose of water vapor and droplets) shoots up into your face during the “drying process.” As  water often collects at the bottom of this ingenious contraption, you often get a healthy splash of water on your face from previous users’ hands. When the machine senses your hands are “dry,” it stops. Of course, it doesn’t have good sensors, so your hands aren’t really dry. Kudos to the manufacturer!

LOCKS: Most facilities have locks on the stall doors, but in many cases they do not work. So if  you’re aiming to do your business in private, check the lock before using the facilities. If inoperative, be prepared to have either a hand or foot holding the bathroom door shut.

If reading the above has you in the dumps, don’t despair. I have a solution for you.

Ladies:

“Kitchen Sink” Pocketbooks.

If you’re the kind of woman who carries a pocketbook large enough to hold everything but the kitchen sink, I’ve got the perfect solution for you. Cover yourself for all eventualities by simply adding to that undifferentiated mass of objects in your pocketbook the following items: a roll of toilet paper, a soap dish with soap and a hand towel.

Small Pocketbooks: Buy yourself a discreet tote, or use a fancy store’s shopping bag and load in all the objects above.

Caveat: These solutions presuppose that there is a hook or some other object on which you can hang your pocketbook or tote. This is not the case in many bathrooms. So you can place the pocketbook around your neck while you are busy and hope you don’t choke, and the pocketbook doesn’t fall into the opening below. If that doesn’t sound too appealing, wear a fanny pack with a small pack of tissues and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. You’ll look like a nerd, but who cares. You’ll be prepared for life’s little “emergencies.”

Men and Women Who Don’t Wear Pocketbooks or Bags:

Stuff the small pack of tissues and the bottle of hand sanitizer into your pockets. Make sure the bottle is tightly sealed so it won’t leak, causing you embarrassment. Also, if using tissues for towels, beware of the telltale little clumps of paper on your hands. It’s a telltale sign of your recent whereabouts.

Best suggestion for everyone: Don’t leave home without using the facilities.

Categories: Israel, Jewish Blog, Public Toilets | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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