Category Archives: Israel

Israel

I found a draft of a blog post I was beginning to write a couple of years ago, a few months after moving to Israel officially:

“Since coming to Israel, I’ve received some mixed criticism and confusion from my non-Jewish friends who don’t quite understand why I would come to such a dangerous and so very non-American country and decide to live here. As Oscar Wilde says, ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple,’ and I’d like to use that quote as a disclaimer to my upcoming explanation which won’t be totally pulled together or comprehensive.

As I was saying before, I grew up with a deep love of Israel. Many of my friends, teachers, and community members were Israeli, I sang Israeli folk songs with classmates, and the Israeli flag hung in our auditorium. It might sound odd for a Silicon Valley upbringing, but that was normal for me. That was life.

I remember the first time I went to Israel – it was my 8th grade class trip, with five of my classmates (my school was very small – my 8th grade graduating class of 2007 consisted of eight people including myself). Certain memories are hazy, but mainly I remember the feeling that I was in the right place. I remember thinking that even the sun seemed to shine differently in the magical land of Israel. I remember weeping when I left (to be honest, it was less civilized than that and involved some messy bawling at the airport).

I remember that the Israeli security woman at the airport told me, in response to my tears (I was unabashedly crying the entire way through the airport, and even when boarding the plane), ‘You will come back.’ I don’t remember her face, her name, or any significant details about her, but she said that to me and to me alone, and it stuck.

So, here I am, almost a full eight years later, and upon first re-entering this country, I knew that I could never leave it. Not only did I fall in love with Eretz Yisrael all over again, like it was some long-lost love affair, but I met and fell in love with my soon-to-be husband, which I view to be a kind of confirmation from God that this was, indeed, where I was supposed to be.”

I now turn to you, the reader: pray for my husband and I, that we might return to our home very quickly, and not simply in the figurative way our people have yearned for home for centuries. We are willing, ready, but not quite able to make this happen yet. A few things must happen first, but if it weren’t for certain constraints, we’d be there tomorrow. Pray for us: pray that we will see our home again soon, and that we will merit to live there once again, and forever.

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Exile

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“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.

Fire

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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.

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.