Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jabotinsky's warning

It is now three years that I plead with you, Jews of Poland, the crown of world Jewry. I warn you without respite that the catastrophe approaches. My hair has turned white and I have grown old during those years since my heart bleeds, dear brothers and sisters, because you do not see the volcano which will soon begin to erupt with the fire of destruction. I see a terrible sight, time is short when one can still save oneself.

I know you do not see because you are busy and worried with your day-to-day cares. Listen to my words at this twelfth hour: For God's sake, let everyone save his soul while there is still time - and time is short!

And I want to say to you one more thing today,the Ninth of Av: those who will succeed to escape the calamity will live to see a festive moment of great Jewish joy: the renewal and establishment of the Jewish State! I don't know if I myself will live to see it - but my son will see it! Of that I am certain, just as I am certain that tomorrow the sun will shine. With all my heart I believe in it

I wonder how many people ignored Zev Jabotinsky's warnings solely because he was a revisionist? Far too many probably ...

Sunday, October 23, 2011


The opening of Parshat Noach starts off by telling us that Noach was "a righteous man, perfect in his generations," (Bereshit 6:9). Rashi states that this is a rebuke of Noach, who was only righteous in his generations due to the ways of his contemporaries (Sefer HaParshiyot states however that the righteous of each generation must be judged in terms of their own times).

Later in the parsha, Noach is told, "Make for yourself an Ark of gopher wood," (Bereshit 6:14). Rashi's view of Noach is accepted by the Alshich, who sees this as a rebuke of Noach, "Make an ark to symbolize your own behavior. You remained aloof from your compatriots, instead of chastising them and trying to save them by improving their conduct. Now you will isolate yourself in an Ark with beasts and animals."

Further criticism of Noach comes from Isaiah, who actually calls the Flood "waters of Noach," (מי נח, Isaiah 54:9) due to Noach's failure to even try to influence his generation. The Zohar even implies that Noach was responsible for the Flood (which confirms the awesome responsibility Tzaddikim have).

Noach's actions present us with an important lesson - one must strive to live a righteous life that can affect his surrounding environment for the better. Unlike Avraham Avinu, who came ten generations later, Noach's righteousness was essentially hidden from the masses, depriving a needing world of his positive influence and guidance.

(Ideas taken from The Stone Edition Chumash)

Livni's at it again

Another morning, another ridiculous statement from Tzippi Livni:

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) broke her silence Sunday over the Gilad Shalit’s prisoner exchange which saw the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for the abducted soldier, stating that the deal “legitimizes and strengthens” Hamas.

I wonder, if just perhaps, maybe, pulling out of Gaza and handing the entire territory to Hamas strengthened Hamas just a little bit? Perhaps she already forgot she voted and backed the release of 400 prisoners to Hezbollah for a drug dealer (Elhanan Tannenbaum) and two bodies (Goldwasser and Regev) despite the fact it would 'legitimize and strengthen' them?

I cannot believe people actually think this Kerry-like politician can lead our country ...

Letter by a Shayetet 13 Commando

This letter, written by a combat soldier in Shayetet 13, was translated by a friend, and I think it offers a different opinion that has sadly been silenced by our media over the past few years.

If heaven forbid, I should be abducted by a terrorist organization I request the following from you:

Please do not organize any demonstrations, please do not conduct any interviews, please do not talk about how much this is hurting you and please do not organize any festivals or musical competitions on my behalf. Any novice in business knows that that is not the way to lower the asking price.

I am not “everybody’s child”. I am a combat soldier in captivity. Please do not use me as a pawn. I do not want the entire world to know who I am and what my name is – while nobody can remember the name of the soldier who died right by my side. I don’t need the media to use me as a freebee. I don’t want to become a tool for furthering all sorts of political agendas, power games or manipulations.

I don’t want to become the national beacon, nor do I want to be the entry ticket to the Israeli consensus. I don’t want the idea of my release to become official dogma which is forbidden to be questioned.

I do not want the people who dare think differently to be silenced on my behalf.

I don’t want the media to use me to get better ratings.

I don’t want entertainers to write a song about me to improve their Google results.

I am not a bottle of shampoo: do not make a logo of my picture. Do not add my face to your Facebook profile. Do not stylize my silhouette to make a slogan.

Do not hire a public relations firm to mold public opinion and that of the decision makers. Do not set up “creative teams”, “optimization teams” or “marketing teams.” Do not set up a “headquarters.” Do not hold any staff meetings with burekas and slideshows. Do not hold any brainstorming sessions and do not create any “critical mass,” do not arrange any advertising budgets or market penetration. Do not write any strategy sketches; do not build any chart-, cross section-, or graph-analysis of the population.

I do not want any “panel of experts” or conferences. I don’t want anybody counting the number of days of my captivity. I don’t want any “depression merchants” making a career off my story.

Do not produce any pins, ties, flags or t-shirts. Do not hold any marches, demonstrations or parades for me. Do not set up any on campus petition booths for me. These things will decrease my chances of being released. These things only serve to confuse our decision makers. I am not a reality show. I don’t want you to photograph me with my father as a souvenir while thousands of murderers are being released on my behalf.

I don’t want you to wave any blue-white flags when really, we are in a white-flag atmosphere.

I don’t want the cold-blooded murderer of sixteen people smiling as he is being released, having gained some weight within the few years since he made a V-sign at the families of the murder victims in the court room.

I am not prepared for the hundreds of families who only recently buried their babies, who are rightfully filled with rage, to be presented as “party poopers”. I am not prepared for the kid who went with his father, mother and three brothers to eat pizza and came back alone, to watch the murderer eat baklava in his “victory hut”, a mere 20 kilometers away. I don’t want the murderers released to eastern Jerusalem to ride the light rail together with my niece. I don’t want families whose entire world has just caved in on them to read in the paper that the man who murdered their boy is going to a Club Med vacation in Turkey. I don’t want their pain to receive a mere one eighth page coverage, just before the sports news, because “reporting-wise it is better that way.” They already know that the blood of their beloved sons is cheap; they don’t need to have their hearts crushed completely.

I feel just so comforted to know that the president has “pardoned but not forgiven them”.

I don’t want the next Intifada to be named after me.

A Shayetet 13 combat soldier.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It's funny ... and sad ... on so many levels:


Welcome Home Gilad

I'm putting aside the obvious issues that this deal presents (at least for now!), and welcoming Gilad Shalit back to Israel after almost 2000 days in captivity.

Welcome back Gilad!

Chag Sameach!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bereshit & Daniel's vision

An interesting connections between Bereshit, which we'll be reading this coming Saturday as the Torah 'begins' again, to Daniel's vision of the four empires (Daniel 7:1-28):

"And the earth was desolate and in turmoil, and there was darkness on the face of the abyss, and the spirit of G-d hovered upon the fact of the water," (Bereshit 1:2).

Rabbi Shimon Ben Lakish (Bereshit Rabba, 2:5) sayst he word 'desolate' refers to the Babylonian empire; the word 'turmoil' refers to Persia/Medes; the word 'darkness' refers to Greece who darkened the light of Israel through its decrees; and the phrase 'upon the face of the abyss' refers to the Edom/Rome empire which is as unfathomable as an abyss. This unfolding of history leads to 'the spirit of G-d,' hovering over the waters.

From the commentary on R' Kook's War and Peace

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Jewish Fundamentalism

With the scary & despicable events (mosque arson & grave graffiti) that seem (Trying to give benefit of the doubt and 'innocent until proven guilty,' but it's not easy) to be our very own taking extreme steps, the following paragraph from the commentary on R' Kook's War and Peace seems prophetic:

If the war between Iraq and Iran awakens a passionate movement of Islamic fundamentalism, bringing the doctrine of Islam to its most strident expression, then a parallel force in the fundamentalism of Judaism will be catalyzed to appear in a more dominant form.

10 questions with Ahmed

Ahmed [False name used to protect identity and family] and I have been talking online since I saw a blog post of his about Zionism (back in 2004), which I thought needed my response. Though he's an Iraqi Muslim and I'm a Israeli Jew, we've become friends and despite various disagreements, there is a strong mutual respect and warm friendship. Here's a Q & A session with the man himself:

1) I remember what started our friendship was a post you had written about Judaism and Zionism. I didn't agree with various points you made, and I e-mailed you to discuss. Do you remember your first recollections of our conversation (and don't worry if you don't, I really don't anymore either!)?

How could I forget?! I was still at work and received your email. The first thing that caught my eyes was the letters "IDF".

You were serving in the army then, if my memory doesn't betray me, and you mentioned that you wanted to "extend an olive branch." I remember I sat back and started thinking. Growing up in a country that was run by an anti-Israel regime, I started thinking if this was a scam, an email from Mossad trying to recruit an Iraqi or if it was a real Jewish person who wanted to become friends with me.

I remember I did not respond right away to give it more thought. I was still doubtful even when I replied later. I was mainly worried because you were in the IDF, which is something considered evil, brutal and even satanic in Iraq.

2) As we talked more, how did your impression of Israeli Jews - especially religious Zionist Jews - change, if it did at all?

Before we had started talking, I met the first Jews ever in my life at work. They were Jewish Americans whom I worked and became good friends with. During that time, I started realizing there is a difference between what I grew up knowing and what the real definition of "Jew" is.

Most Iraqis, especially my generation, thought that every Jew is an Israeli Zionist, someone who "hates Palestinians and who wants to get rid of them forever."

However, I realized that there is actually a difference between the word "Zionist" and the word "Jew". Mind you, we were not subject to question the difference or even learn there is a difference!

You were honestly the very first Israeli Jew I've ever known and talked to. I must say that despite the fact that I was doubtful of you at first, I was a bit excited that you contacted me. Of course, it is still something I never shared with any of my family members and friends. No one would understand where I come from.

As we became friends -as I like to describe it- I started learning about where you come from. I disagreed, and still do, with a lot of the things you agree on. However, discussing such issues with you made me think that it's OK to disagree and not hate.

I do not remember if I "hated" Jews but I remember hating what the Palestinians were going through, especially during the second Intifada, which of course made me a bit angry with the "Zionists". Keep in mind, the word "Zionist" is considered a very bad word. We even did not call Israel "Israel". Instead, we used to call it "The Zionist Entity".

Something you may not know is Iraqis are not huge fans of Palestinians, but we have a saying "I'm against my cousin but I support my cousin against the stranger."

3) Growing up in Saddam's Iraq as a minority must have been difficult. What stands out about your youth there?

I'm from a Shiite background, something I don't like to define myself with or with any other term other than "Iraqi" or "Arab".

Under Saddam, most Iraqis from all sects and religions suffered. It was only the elite group that was favored by the regime. It included those from all sects and religions who were loyal to Saddam and the Baath Party.

4) You made a comment once about how you were educated about Jews in school. Can you share a bit more about that?

Well, like I said earlier we were mainly taught that the "Palestinian Cause" is something important and that Jews are the ones who are killing Palestinians and stealing their land. So you can imagine what we considered Jews to be.

Unfortunately, this has not changed much even after the Saddam was overthrown. However, Kurdish Iraqis are a little bit more accepting, at least the politicians. Rumors have it in Iraq that Kurdish leaders are in touch with their Israeli counterparts but they don't talk about it, fearing public rage.

5) What was it like being a war zone correspondent around that danger? Did it create any issues for you or your family? Any regrets?

Working for this news organization made me a stronger person. It was very hard to be objective and unbiased since I was covering the horrors my country was going through.

6) How did you get to the US? What are your thoughts about the country?

I came to the US to pursue my graduate studies. An American friend of mine encouraged me to apply to study in the US. In 2006, I arrived and have been living here since.

The US is a diverse place of people and thoughts. I come across ignorant, racist and intolerant people sometimes but I also meet very open-minded people who are aware of what is happening in the world.

I believe that a lot of American still need to get out of the bubble they live in and understand the world in a better way. A lot of Americans still think it's "UnAmerican" to question what happens here. This needs to change in order to better solve the problems.

7) You're a big fan of Obama. How do you think the Arab world sees the man? Do you feel he can promote a strong relationship between the US and the Arab world? How do you feel he's handled the Arab Spring rebellions?

I'm an Obama fan mostly because he's Democrat which I lean to become when I become a US citizen. I think he really cares about the people who are struggling in the US, but the Republicans are not giving him the chance to help those in need because they think it's "socialism," which they consider a bad thing. I think socialism can be useful too if it is not abused.

With regards to the Arab Spring, I do not like where the US administration stand. On one hand it was completely silent with regards to the tyrannical oppression of protesters in Bahrain, while on the other hand it intervened in what happened in Libya. It's all a matter of interests and the victims are the people. I believe you either fully support protesters' legitimate demands in every country controlled by totalitarian regimes or you don't. It's too ideal I believe and it will never happen.

8) What are your thoughts on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad & Iran?

I pity the Iranian people because of him. I know a lot of Iranians inside and outside Iran who despise what he's doing. He's taking his country backwards and hurting whatever chance left to make Iran blend in with the rest of the world.

9) You recently got engaged, so congrats yet again. Do you wish to settle down in the US and build your future there? Or is there a hope to return home, to Iraq? What do you see for the future of Iraq?

Thanks for the kind wishes!

The future in Iraq is grim. It'll take a really long time to rebuild Iraq to at least how it was before 2003. I do want to go home and help rebuild but like we say, "One hand doesn't clap". We need a group effort which doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon.

I do intend to live in the US for now. Things change and you never know what the next step might be sometimes even if you plan it!

10) Last but not least - if you could control the powers that be, how would you end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Two states as a start. Both sides must compromise. Palestinians need to build their new country and stop saying "It's our land. You stole it from us" and the Israelis should compromise and stop the whole "We were here before you" ideology if they both want peace. If no one compromises, this conflict will never end.

In the News, II

This time, Haaretz:

Ashdod, returning from suspension, looked excited to be back in the thick of things. The team started off the brighter side with its number 11 rattling the crossbar on 12 minutes with a header. Moments later Jaffa was unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty after an Ashdod player appeared to handle the ball in the area. Ashdod also tasted bad luck in the first half after its winger was denied a penalty despite being hacked down in the area by Jaffa full back Yossi Sandler.

Jaffa got on the score sheet first as a defense-breaking pass from Alberto Tellias came through to Nir Hacohen, who confidently netted Jaffa's first goal of the season. The beginning of the second half saw Ashdod grab a deserved equalizer as Shlomi Touboul ran 40 meters past several Jaffa players before placing a low drive past Jaffa keeper Avram Piha.

Ashdod looked to take charge of the game but Jaffa had not given up the three points as Hacohen hit the crossbar for the second time in the game on 67 minutes. But it wasn't to be Jaffa's night, and on 77 minutes Alberto Tellias saw his powerful header hit the Ashdod crossbar.

A tiring Jaffa side weathered the storm over the last 10 minutes from a fast Ashdod attack. Daniel Berkeley, Simon Berkley and goalkeeper Avram Piha deserved full credit for making sure that Jaffa didn't end the night empty-handed.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Roskas ... The Tradition Continues

My family traditionally breaks the fast (no pun intended) approaching Yom Kippur fast with feta, tomatoes, olive oil and za'atar sandwiched in a roska, a sweet bread/roll (drink of choice: Pepitada). One can obviously have roskas throughout the year, but we tend to only have them after the fast which is probably why I look forward to Yom Kippur more than most! ;) On that note, gmar chatima tova!

The recipe

Dough, Part I

Dough, Part II

Ready to go into the oven

The final product

תזכו לשנים טובות ונעימות

Only in Israel

Gmar Chatima Tova!

Taste like Chicken?