Sunday, March 24, 2013

Freedoms and responsibilities

Freedom takes many forms. Some seek freedom on a national level - from a dictatorial ruler, as we've seen in the Arab 'spring', or rather 'fall', exchanging one totalitarian government for another in some cases. Others aspire to personal freedoms, education for their children and dreams of a better society.

The former is the Syrian rift that we're seeing now, with Assad's deadly responses to internal turmoil. The latter is the holiday of Passover, celebrated by a People who pray daily 'for the peace of Jerusalem'.
This dichotomy is typical of the contrasts here in the Middle East. While our neighbors call for Jihad against other religions, Israelis practice what they preach. Our school books do not incite to hatred. Our city squares are not named to glorify terrorists. Yet we remain the Goliath in so many eyes.

President Obama gave two speeches here last week, one in Ramallah supporting a movement based on hate and terror. The other in Jerusalem, turning his back on the only democratically elected government in the Middle East, snubbing our Knesset and choosing selected students as his dutiful audience, telling them to seek peace. And what message came out of Gaza in response? That of deadly rockets, inconveniently hitting the city of Sderot during his visit - but ignored and kept quiet.

Mr. President, friends, we do not have to be taught to seek peace. Our husbands, wives, and children serve in the Israeli army. We put our most cherished lives on the line every day. We fight the battle that your country faces as well, the hate of a Moslem population determined to destroy our Western values of peace and security.

As the Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Passover, we will sit tonight with strangers and loved ones, together at our seder table, recalling our liberation from Egypt. We taste the salt water, and are reminded of the tears of a people enslaved, and we surely recognize the not-long-ago suffering in Europe as well, simply because of race and religion. We, of all people, are aware of the desire for freedom, and we celebrate that quest. We also recognize dishonesty, and are wary of those who wave the flag of freedom without true intent, only to be replaced by more oppression and hatred.

In Bethlehem last week, the Palestinian Authority removed signs of their very real aspiration - the removal of the State of Israel. In an attempt to wipe us off the (proverbial, for now) map, this monument was erected in the city's central square. Realizing it was on Obama's visiting route, the PA removed it temporarily so as not to cause alarm. (

No worries, it's back up, safe and sound, and its message should resonate throughout the free world - our intentions are clear, so pay attention to what we say and do.

We western idealists have a job to do - eyes wide open, we must celebrate our values and work to ensure their application. When confronted with a nuclear Iran, our work is to create a vehemently defiant front, not allowing any cracks in the wall of defiance. Any other choice endangers our children's immediate futures.

As many in the US celebrate the holiday of Easter, and Israel rids itself of leavened bread and enters a spiritual realm of celebration and freedom, it is our duty to face reality - hear our neighbors, understand their intentions and protect our values by supporting Israel morally and militarily, spiritually and practically. By raising our collective voices, we say yes to a strong Israel and strengthen our resolve for true freedom.

Happy Passover!

LIKE us at:

In Jerusalem on this holiday we greet our guests with the ancient priestly blessing
Our friends, join us in a true quest for peace and freedom in the coming year, eyes wide open.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

POTUS, welcome. Obama, snubs and all.

President Obama is set to visit Israel.
We here are rolling out the red carpet to make the best impression possible.

I wonder if the President is doing the same. Are his advisors making sure that the people of Israel get the proper respect? Are they making sure to note the historic relevance of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel?

A visit to the Israel Museum. A speech before Israelis.
But without the Western Wall? This holy site is just one of Jerusalem's landmarks for Jewish heritage throughout the ages, one deemed important for a senatorial photo op for Obama just a few years ago, when he still hankered for the Jewish vote.
And no proper head of state Knesset speech? What, afraid of hecklers? That cant be it, since we Israelis know how to be proper when necessary. It's much deeper than that, a fear of making some sort of statement supporting Israeli sovereignty, and doing so in Jerusalem of all places!

When the NYTimes calls Senator Rubio's support of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol 'provocative', we know what the media thinks. We can repeat a mantra to make it seem more real - see official logo of the upcoming presidential visit: 'Unbreakable Alliance' for some wishful thinking. We can explain away our friends' actions to make it seem more in line with our own policies. But we cant fool ourselves forever.

We'd be hard pressed to explain how, in the same month as an international, annual boycott of all Israeli products (throw away those microchip processors in every laptop, please) - the White House chose to abide by apartheid-like policies of the US State Department in turning away one singular group of Israeli students in an Israeli-recognized university - those who study in the Ariel University. Science has no borders? Think again. Apartheid? Against Jews here.

The Kotel. The Knesset. Our university. Whose pressure will the US hear when it comes to matters of state? I for one wont be simply chanting a mantra of 'unbreakable alliance'. With eyes wide open, our new government must approach with caution and wisdom, as the only true protectors of Israel's interests.

Welcome, POTUS. We share our country with you as our guest.
But Obama, we remain wary of your intentions and cues.

p.s. oh, and beware: our goodwill, despite the snubs and ill-timed visit, Jerusalem's residents are in for crazy traffic while preparing for our Passover holiday:)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

New Government for Israel - its about time.

You can stop holding your political breath: Israel's about to get a new Government. Yes, as predicted, Lapid and Bennett/Ariel are in; the ultraorthodox parties are out, for now. Many ministers wont be shifting their positions, which gives nice continuity and a chance to get things done within the professional format. 

Dont expect small,  though - an expected 25-ish Ministers; but they've vowed to legislate an 18-minister minimum 'next time' (when its not their turn). The newbies will have to adopt a very steep learning curve as they maneuver our very major posts.

Let's hope that Netanyahu has the wisdom to have Moshe Bogie Yaalon serve as Defense Minister, and to deny promotion to some of the younger, more political hacks with little to offer than maneuvers and face value.

And the 'regular' members of knesset? While new to politics, many of them will now have their chance to learn quickly, and shine. Wishing them best of luck, and the wisdom to pay attention to others more experienced as well. 

You heard it here.
A new government presented Monday, voted on Tuesday and sworn in by the next day.
May Israel merit success, if not redemption, soon!