Monday, September 26, 2011

Reshikas ... The Tradition Continues

Reshikas are twice baked cookies, served for various occasions including Rosh Ha'Shana (Spanish / English article). Talya & I decided to make them this year for the first time. The shapes aren't nearly as good as the ones Nonna, Mom or Tova make - but for a first effort, I'm happy. As Nonna said however, it's the taste that counts and they're yummy!

The recipe

Dough (yummy!)

Ready to go into the oven

The final produ
ct (well, before crisping)

שנה טובה ומתוקה! תזכו לשנים טובות ונעימות

Concessions & History

Gidon Levy is an extremist. He does not represent the majority of Israeli left wingers. However, he does raise two ideas in his latest op-ed in Haaretz which are far too common way of thinking within the Israeli left. Levy highlights the falsehoods that concessions will probably bring peace and that attachment to our history is a stumbling block in our maturation as a country.

Netanyahu was particularly persuasive when he explained that a Palestinian state would endanger Israel - narrow waist, just hundreds of meters from Israeli cities, thousands of rockets - one giant blah-blah that willfully ignores the possibility of peace.

Willfully ignores the possibility of peace? Concessions don't bring peace in this region, and if they do, it's temporary at best. Menachem Begin's peace with Egypt brought temporary quiet to Israel's southern border, but peace? Egypt's government continued to promote vicious anti-semitism and anti-Israel sentiments in their media, and we are seeing the full effect of this during the overthrow of Hosni Mumbarak. With the non-stop threats from Egypt that the peace treaty is not permanent and can be ended, the concessions we made bought us 30 years of quiet and that's it it seems (unless we include the US giving Egypt non-stop military aid to make their army a serious player in this region). Yitzchak Rabin's Oslo Accords brought suicide bombers into Tel Aviv. Ehud Barak's Camp David attempt brought us the 2nd Intifada and 1,000+ dead Israelis and 3,000+ dead Palestinians. Arik Sharon's Disengagement brought us a Hamas government and rockets on Ashkelon & Ashdod. Two states won't necessarily bring peace, especially if we listen to Hamas ("It can not abandon the path of jihad and resistance and its dedication to the martyrs with their blood and their sacrifice." - source) or Fatah ("If we say that we want to wipe Israel out... C'mon, it's too difficult. It's not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don't say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself." - source), the parties who rule, and will rule, Gaza and the West Bank. I have no problem with people promoting two states in hope that it will bring peace - but we need to be realistic. Deliberately keeping our heads in the sand has resulted in much bloodshed over our history - why continue with this self-imposed blindness?

Every decent Israeli must be ashamed of their prime minister, who stands before the world and tries to sell it the same old shopworn, even rotten goods that are long past their expiration date, expounding on ancient, irrelevant chapters of history

Ancient, irrelevant chapters of our history? Excuse me? Why are we here again? How can any decent Israeli not be horrified by what Levy is highlighting here - the secular Left's detachment from their Jewish identity. I've written about this before, and Arik Sharon's quote needs repeating:

And I for one, even then, never believed we would really be able to survive here if we were nothing more than Israelis. For our attachment to the land of Israel, our identity with it, comes through out Jewishness. I am a Jew, I thought then, as I think now. That does not mean I am a religious man. I am not. When it comes to practicing Judaism, there is much I do not know. But I do know for certain that above everything I am a Jew and only afterwards an Israeli and the rest.

I just hope that Arik's warning is 'heard' amongst the secular Left before it's too late.

This conflict isn't about land - it wasn't before '48, it wasn't after '48 or '67 and it's not that now. It's about something that has been an active part of the Jew's life in this region since ~600 CE:

The key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and in the wider Israeli-Arab dispute, is the issue that dare not speak its name, the pervasive and profound anti-Semitism that permeates the contemporary Islamic world, especially the Middle East.

This is the real barrier to peace, and people who are concerned with peace will try to ameliorate it.

It is analytically false, historically untrue and conceptually impossible that all this anti-Semitism has arisen from Israel’s sins, real and imagined.

Greg Sherdian

(h/t Gedaliah)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Credit where Credit's due

I'm not sure what President Obama's motivations where for yesterday's speech, but it was an important speech and he deserves credit for it:

I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn’t the goal we seek – the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.


Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.

These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

תשע"ב on the way

A really nice video from Aish ... "Growth takes patience and perseverance."

Wishing all a happy & healthy New Year.

שנה טובה ומתוקה לכולם

תשע"ב on the way!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Twerski on Pursuit of Happiness

Many people sacrifice comforts, conveniences, and pleasure in pursuit of an ultimate goal. However, if the ultimate goal is pursuit of pleasure, it is unreasonable to expect people, especially youngsters, to sacrifice pleasure for the ultimate goal which is ... pursuit of pleasure. Western culture with its hedonism has painted itself into a corner.

What about Torah-observant families? Let us be brutally frank with ourselves. Many Torah-observant families have been caught up in pursuit of pleasure, the one difference being that they partake only of pleasures that have a hechsher, which today includes almost everything.

It is not as though we were not forewarned in regard to this. The Ramban in reference to the mitzvah (Leviticus 19:2), "You shall be holy," asks, 'What is the requirement of this mitzvah?' His answer is prophetic. It is possible for a person to technically observe all of the restrictions in the Torah, yet live a life of physical indulgence. The mitzvah of kedoshim tehiyu, "You shall be holy," means that a person should abstain not only from things that are forbidden by the Torah, but even from the many things that are permissible, but which are unnecessary for optimum health and functioning."

Taken from Positive Parenting by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Livni & Being Israeli

Not like I need more reasons to dislike her, but Tzippi Livni dropped even further in my eyes when she opened her mouth yesterday:

Livni said that while the Netanyahu government speaks of national pride, Israeli ambassadors are being forced to flee countries in the middle of the night wearing kaffiyehs.

[The government] talks tough but it has weakened Israel to the point that it cannot act when missiles are falling on its residents.

Is Israel's security better or in greater doubt?

Where to begin ... While I've long thought the peace treaty with Egypt was bound to fail (See point 2 here), the current mess in Egypt was not Israel's doing, and couldn't have been stopped by Bibi's government. Instead of praising Bibi for acting to get our six boys out safely, she continues in her typical "Bash Bibi, domestically or internationally, no matter what" fashion.

Her 2nd point is equally ridiculous. Livni was an eager member of the Sharon's government that pushed the Disengagement through despite continuous rocket fire, and a member of the following governments that did what exactly through 5 years of continuous rocket fire? Nothing until Operation Cast Lead ... Was our country weak then? How exactly have things changed? It's all the same really ...

Her last point is mind boggling. Is she really blaming Bibi and his government for the ramifications of the Arab Spring and the deterioration of the Turkey relationship? No one could have predicted the Arab Spring, and the issues it's brought closer to our borders. With regards to Turkey, it was our dear ex-foreign minister's government that accelerated our (unavoidable, I might add) problems with Erdogan's Turkey (Davos anybody)? Our security situation is unfortunately being dictated by events we are not in control of.

It's really sad that since 1981, left leaning opposition leaders have been unable to stand behind right wing governments in times of need. They should really try and learn from Begin's two and a half decades as the opposition leader.


At our footy match last night, one of the regulars (Let's call him Harry) bought his brother along. After the game, I asked his brother if he had made aliyah, as the game could always use talented kids like him. "Nope," he replied, before Harry also chimed in, "I haven't made aliyah either Avram." I asked why and he responded, "because I don't want to become Israeli."

I didn't push the point, but I understood where he was coming from. The stereotypical Israeli - loud, rude etc - is not something any of us Olim strive to become. We may acquire parts of the mentality (I know I have) but that doesn't mean we can't maintain the positive 'Oleh' traits we came with, and pass them on to our children or display them actively around Israelis. If everyone took his stance, how can we, as individuals, ever hope to to really improve the Sabara?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Palmer Report

The Palmer Report - The UN's findings about the IDF's raid on the Mavi Marmara - will finally be released tomorrow. Haaretz, through the NY Times, has released some of the major findings from the report:

- Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara were met with "organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers," and so were forced to use self defense.

- The Israeli forces used "excessive and unreasonable force," and emphasized that the loss of life on board the ship is "unacceptable." Moreover, it found that the treatment of the passengers by the IDF soldiers after the interception was "abusive."

- The Palmer report determined that the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip is legal, as "Israel faces a security threat from violent groups in Gaza."

- The report harshly criticizes the flotilla organizers, stating "they acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade". It added that ” there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH.”

Considering that this is a UN report, it seems pretty fair. The one area of the report I'd like to see an IDF's response to is the forensic evidence presented in the report. Other than that, I think the report pretty much highlights what most reasonable people already knew.