Failure?

Like a child running to hide behind her mother’s skirt, I ran back to America. And like that child, I found that it did no good. It didn’t erase the big, frightening world out there.

In my case, Aliyah did not fail me. I failed myself. I gave up when we were on the brink of some stability. Call it fear, exhaustion, hormones – probably some combination of all three. I have spent the last year and a half remembering the events that led to our hasty departure, reviewing my own thought processes which led to that fateful decision to leave. I have tried to make sense of it, and I can’t. Israel welcomed me with open arms, and I fell into its loving embrace.

Yes, the months leading up to our departure were hard. But a seasoned resident wouldn’t have so much as blinked at such problems. I had been effectively handling all the myriad ways a new immigrant could fail, and yet the one thing which stumped me was the lack of family. And I didn’t need to fail at that. I could’ve found a way to overcome it. Instead, I let fear drive me. Fear not of present regret, but of future. I didn’t know my future regret for not following my heart would be even greater.

I’m not normally a fearful person. Fear has never been natural to me. I suppose, from time to time, we must all face it. I did, and I failed. Now I know what it looks like, what it’s clothed in and how it tricks you. How it can ruin your life, not beyond repair, but beyond recognition.

I thought I was finished with Israel, or that it was finished with me. The truth is that we are not finished – far from it. We are finding a way to go back, and to be stronger than ever before. I will not make the mistakes of my old self. I will not give up. I will not let go of that precious dream which has sustained my people for centuries.

I refuse to let fear dictate my actions. I refuse to give in to worry and depression. With all transitions there must be some period of adjustment, one that may not be too kind, but that is a necessary evil.

And when we return, God willing soon, we will thank God everyday for blessing us with the opportunity to be there.

“Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land.” (Ezekiel 37:21)

Failure?

Expectations

Can we talk for a moment about unrealistic expectations?

Whenever I do a simple job search, I find a laundry list of expectations: the degrees and certifications you should have, the years of experience you need to have, the very specific talents and abilities you absolutely must have.

Many of the job postings I read are the size of a novel, and for entry level positions! Who are they looking to hire — God? It certainly seems like it.

Yes, my complaints can certainly be spun as the quibbling of a ne’er-do-well, or the incessant whining of an unemployed “millennial” who is now crying and imploring the government for assistance. But I am neither of those types. I can’t accurately identify myself as a “type.” I’m not sure anyone should.

While I am definitely not saying that I am qualified to be a doctor, or a software engineer, or even a social media manager, I am genuinely wondering is whether we, as a society, have overemphasized the so-called requirements for being even remotely considered, and forgotten that many people can, in fact, be trained and taught (and oftentimes are) to learn on the job. What happened to people training as an apprentice or assistant with no experience whatsoever?

Jobs like those do exist. But they are few and far between. And we are increasingly forced to have to do curriculum vitae acrobatics and empty our wallets to gain more certifications, degrees, and licenses.

Don’t even get me started on the push for higher education and the racket that college has become. I say this, naturally, having already spent two years in the college system, and I return in the fall of 2017 to finish my half empty degree. But more on that later.

What are your thoughts?

Expectations

Exile

Welcome_to_the_land_of_freedom

“So do Jews hate Jesus?” a coworker asked me the other week. The question itself wasn’t particularly disturbing; I knew it was asked out of genuine curiosity and naivety. But the truly unsettling part was the remembrance that I was in exile. A stranger in a strange land.

I had gone from living in Israel – the Holy Land – the Promised Land – to living in מצרים, Egypt, the land of slavery. Yet, rather like the initial purpose of the descent of Joseph’s family to Egypt in search of food and bounty, I had come here willingly seeking much of the same. In my case, it was also for the sake of family.

It is a self-imposed exile. And with it comes the necessary evils that accompany all migrations, though my case is a strange one, for I find myself in my old “homeland,” the land that I was born and raised in.

I am reminded of a book I read some years ago called Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. The protagonist describes feeling torn between two nations and somehow, simultaneously, nation-less. I, too, feel torn between the two countries of my heart – America and Israel. It’s hard to say whether I will ever truly feel comfortable in one place over the other. In Israel, I lack family. In America, I lack home. All these reflections have me recalling some thoughts I had while living in Israel: How could any Jew voluntarily live in exile, when Israel, the land of our ancestors, exists in the present?

It seems that, once again, God has given me the opportunity to answer my own – and perhaps others’ – question. It is self-imposed exile, yes – a seemingly ludicrous and nonsensical choice. But like Joseph’s family discovered, there is a reality that must be grasped, a truth which lies in a sometimes fickle reason: we have no other choice but to pursue greener pastures.

Exile

Hypocrisy

masked-girl

Let me sketch a picture for you.

Women (and men) scream that it is a woman’s right to abort her baby – her body, her choice.

These same people often weep at the near extinction of many species of animals – whether by natural or unnatural causes – and weep about the destruction of forest life.

(I guess trees are more alive than an embryo?)

I hear varied arguments from pro-choice advocates. For a long time, the argument for it was that a fetus isn’t a baby until… some unspecified point. Abortions, advocates argued, are operations which simply remove “embryonic tissue.” Lately, though, the brunt of the arguments I hear are this: “my body, my choice” – which suggests that these women do recognize that they are killing living beings, but are loath to admit it.

But the law states that one who murders a pregnant woman is responsible for a double homicide. And the world wails when a pregnant woman in Gaza is killed in an IDF airstrike. Why specify that she is pregnant if it doesn’t mean anything? According to pro-choicers, she is just a woman with a growth in her body, perhaps equivalent to a tumor.

I would like to point out another deranged mentality.

People call for justice when Palestinians are injured and die. And yet they remain silent when innocent Israeli Jews are injured and die – or worse, justify it.

They hate imperialism of any variety, and yet fail to acknowledge that nearly every country on this planet has been conquered by foreign entities who are still present in those lands to this day.

(If you truly feel as though you are intruders on Native American soil, then leave.)

They demand strict gun controls, when most shootings happen in “gun free” zones.

(And a terror attack in San Bernardino becomes a narrative on gun control rather than terrorism, while the Planned Parenthood shooting is indicative of the radicalism of the right.)

They condemn racism but hate those who are white and “privileged.”

(Most politicians, both on the left and the right are “privileged” and yet nobody’s complaining about the vast wealth of these corrupt politicans.)

They claim to be open-minded, but scorn anyone who disagrees with them.

(They are accepting of everyone except those with different viewpoints.)

They eschew Islamophobia, homophobia, and most of the bad “isms,” but embrace anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.

(They embrace Islam, which has historically and consistently been oppressive to women and homosexuals, while hating Christianity, which has demonstrated far less intolerance and has generally conformed to modern ideals.)

They demand peace and spew hatred.

This is hypocrisy.

We are all guilty of it at times – it is only human.

But ask yourself…

Do you see your own hypocrisy?

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” ~André Gide

Hypocrisy

BIGOT

zAwbnuC

One of my favorite books is 1984 by George Orwell. The story of 1984 is a paradigm of totalitarianism at its worst, based on Orwell’s observations of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Personally, I also see it as a reflection of true human nature under years of political and social duress, as well as an ominous prediction for the future – now present. There is a scene from 1984 in particular which I would like to reference as a guide for the rest of my post, in a memorable section from the “Two Minutes of Hate” program:

“The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’ and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein’s nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp” (Orwell 18-19).

This is strongly reminiscent of our culture today, one that claims to hate intolerance and bigotry but is simultaneously guilty of it themselves. How many comments from otherwise seemingly intelligent people scream, “BIGOT! RACIST! HOMOPHOBE!”? Instead of engaging in intelligent and genuinely tolerant discourse with the victims of their fervent abuse, they trade carefully considered discussions for brief attacks on the person’s humanity. They accuse the one disagreeing with them to be “privileged bigoted racists” or some variation of that sort. And yet, by professing hatred for those who hold different opinions on a subject, they themselves are inherently guilty of the bigotry they apparently despise. After all, there is an ironic twist to the throwing of labels upon anyone who does not agree with you – you are guilty of those very behaviors of which you accuse someone. Isn’t the one who cries “intolerance” guilty of not tolerating those who disagree with him? Isn’t the one who screams “bigot” the one who is actually expressing his own bigotry?

To bolster this point, I would like to point out the definition(s) of a bigot:

a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially: a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

and

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudicesespecially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Why have even the well-informed resorted to such language? Why has this kind of dialect become acceptable, even on national television? For many reasons. One of which, I think, is indicated very clearly in 1984. It’s popular. It gains support from like-minded peers. It removes the possibility of a real argument because when one is deliberately derogatory, he is expressing a boorish, childish sentiment to which one can only respond with a sigh and a meek attempt at actual conversation, which normally fails in the face of virulent, thoughtless diatribe. There is no process of reasoning in this immature, illogical mentality. It is the manifestation of our animalistic side, the one who wants to shout and call names and has no desire to listen to the mind’s reason. This is a very tempting side to revert to, but ultimately it is fruitless in the face of the rational mind.

There are very few cases in which I might say labelling someone is justified (though in general, I don’t believe that labelling people is a wise choice). In a case of extremes, such as a member of the KKK, I would agree that there is indeed bigotry present in the KKK member. However, this is an extreme case, and one that does not occur very often. Sadly, even with respect to the most well-thought out, descriptive articles on a certain subject – for instance, about the dangers of allowing Syrian refugees into countries – the exclamations of “bigot” and “Islamophobia” grow deafening.

I am all in favor of open and intellectually honest discussion about a subject, but the intellectual dishonesty and moral dementia of the modern thought process or lack thereof is astoundingly high. Here are a few examples of this insanity:

 

“When you’re labeled a racist, bigot, and Islamophobe for simply attempting to ensure the safety of the people in your state, rational debate is already lost and the terrorists have already won.” –Dumisani Washington

BIGOT

Fire

israel-jerusalem-wailing-wall-prayer-close-up

When Rosh Hashanah came around, I knew we were headed into a year of revelation. Of what, I wasn’t sure. But I knew…

And sure enough, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, it began.

You can say it began a long time ago; it’s true, it did. But this was the beginning of 778 terror attacks from Rosh Hashanah until now.

And after last week’s attacks on the father and his son, and today’s separate terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion, I feel emotionally exhausted.

I wanted to write out of passionate fury but my passion has weakened and my emotions are frayed. This is too much, too much for one nation, let alone multiple families and friends, to bear.

Our voices are hoarse from screaming to be heard, our eyes are red from the endless tears we have shed for centuries – for this land, this home we have been yearning for, and for our people, who have died to give us this precious homeland. These forces which seek to vanquish us, those who state that our heritage and our claim are illegitimate – they are fighting tooth and nail to deprive us of what rightfully is, has been, and always will be, ours.

But those who have died – whether intentionally in the name of the Jewish people, Israel, and God, or unintentionally – have not died in vain. Though our limbs may be fatigued and though our hearts sit heavy, we will march forward into that bleak, desperate future. We will shuffle forward despite the putrid black smoke ahead. We will stop to weep beside the rivers of Babylon and we will swear to remember Jerusalem always. And we will run like no one has ever run to the light which we see just at the horizon, the faint, elusive promise of what will certainly be but is not yet. And despite those who wish to destroy us, whether by word or by deed, we will prevail because that is the beauty of our existence.

Our fire is an eternal flame.

We will prevail.

Am Yisrael chai.

Fire

Paris

In light of the Paris terror attacks, I would like to point out a few hypocrisies.

While Israel has been facing terror attacks for nearly two months, nobody bats an eye. Obama (and his administration), possibly the worst president in the history of the United States, though a good representative of popular opinion, blames both sides, equating the Israelis to the Palestinians, believing both are capable of acts of terrorism (so these attacks on innocent civilians are justified, because both Israelis and Palestinians have been involved in terrorist acts…?).

On the other hand, the Paris terror attacks, perpetrated by people whom he does not even wish to think about or label (Muslim terrorists, are you surprised?), are unequivocally branded by Obama as “an attack on all humanity” and an “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”

The world reaches out in support of France, posting pictures of an Eiffel tower peace sign, writing about how terrible and awful that innocent civilians are being gunned down by people who are most certainly terrorists and have no justification whatsoever.

What if I turned it around, and said that both sides – the French and the Muslim terrorists – were equally responsible? What if Obama called on both parties to stop inciting violence? What if he did not condemn the terrorism very strongly, instead hinting that in some way, these attacks are justified?

I think there would be a mutiny on his hands if he ever said anything like that about almost any country – except Israel.

Israel has been suffering from terror attacks almost daily for two months – and probably many more that are either prevented or go unreported – and these include stabbings, shootings, firebombing, and rock throwing, to name a few. But there is no mass swelling of support for Israel. Because in the sick, twisted mind of popular and public opinion, the attacks on Israelis are justified.

While Israel has certainly been very lucky, and has avoided mass casualties, that is due to a combination of the Divine, ordinary but vigilant citizens who have become accustomed to a lifetime of terrorism, and the Israel Defense Forces. Perhaps if there was a confluence of all the attacks of the Stabbing Intifada on a one or two day period, the world would reach out in support of Israel and condemn the terrorism. It’s unlikely, but possible. However, I think the more likely scenario, the one which is already taking place, is either total silence or uproar against the killing of Palestinians during this time period. Meanwhile, these same people who say nothing or scream their support for Palestine even when innocent civilians are targeted, weep over the tragedy in France. These same people look on in shock and anger at the Paris attacks without so much as blinking at a headline about Israel’s Stabbing Intifada.

Here we are, well into November, and the State of Israel has been suffering from attacks for nearly two months. Where is the outcry against this?

So before you post your Eiffel tower, and before you weep about the civilians in Paris, ask yourself – are you truly concerned about the innocent lives which have been lost? Or are you operating out of an agenda, perhaps subconsciously, believing at heart that some lives are more significant than others? Do you believe that the French are completely innocent, while the Israelis deserve to have chaos and terror wreaked upon them? Will you plainly label this as terrorism, perhaps even go so far as to say that radical Islam is to blame, but simultaneously call for justice for the Palestinians?

“Only crime and the criminal…confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to core.” Hannah Arendt

UPDATE: As it turns out this, this was more strongly linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict than I had previously realized. The Bataclan Club was specifically targeted due to Jewish owners and a history of having Pro-Israel events.

Paris